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Teen killed pal in head-on crash during 'suicidal' overtake while driving 'like a bat out of hell'

Mirror Mirror 17/09/2016 Andrew Hirst
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A teenager who killed a pal in a head-on crash after carrying out a “suicidal” overtaking manoeuvre has been sentenced to 30 months in a young offender institution.

Tragic 17-year-old Sami Achour died after Harriet Elizabeth Haigh’s “thoughtless actions” caused her vehicle to flip over in a horrific smash on September 27 last year.

A campervan driver said he saw Haigh flying up behind him “like a bat out of hell” before she overtook in "a suicidal manoeuvre off the scale of dangerousness.”

Other drivers said she had been "tailgating" vehicles and overtaken other cars before she smashed head-on into an Audi, causing her car to fly into the air and flip onto its side.

Duncan Ritchie, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday Haigh had already overtaken other vehicles earlier on the journey towards Holmfirth before she pulled out to overtake a camper van as her VW Polo approached the crest of a hill.

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She did not have a clear view ahead and failed to see an approaching Audi driven by firefighter Marlon Miller until it was too late, reports The Examiner.

Each tried to avoid the other but collided head on and as the Polo was lifted into the air the rear was struck by the camper van.

The Polo came to rest on its side off the A635 Greenfield Road on Saddleworth Moor, West Yorkshire.

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Mr Achour from Diggle, who was in the rear suffered multiple injuries and had no pulse.

Adam Barnes, the other back seat passenger in the car driven by Haigh, suffered life threatening injuries which have had a devastating effect.

Haigh’s then boyfriend Luke Stacey who was in the front passenger seat suffered abdominal injuries.

Mr Miller managed to climb from the wreckage but passed out on the side of the road.

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He also suffered abdominal injuries which may limit his career as a fireman.

Haigh was also injured as were the couple in the camper van.

An off duty policeman, two nurses and a doctor gave assistance as the police were called and some of the injured were later flown to hospital by air ambulance.

Mr Ritchie said witnesses heard a young woman, who could only have been Haigh saying “look what’s happened, it’s my fault.”

He told the court Haigh and a group of friends from the Oldham and Saddleworth area had decided to go to a café at Holmfirth after collecting Mr Achour in Diggle.

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She did not know where it was and was supposed to follow the car being driven by one of those friends but after commenting she did not want to be doing 30mph had overtaken the friend on the climb to Saddleworth Moor.

She also overtook other vehicles on the road. One driver described her “tailgating” the vehicle in front before she pulled out. Another said he called her an idiot when he saw what she was doing.

Mark Smith, who was driving the camper van, said he saw her flying up behind him “like a bat out of hell” and described her decision to overtake as “a suicidal manoeuvre off the scale of dangerousness.”

He tried to brake when he saw the collision about to occur but could not avoid striking the back of the Polo.

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Peter Horgan, representing Haigh, said she accepted full responsibility for what happened and her poor judgment that day. At the time she was only 17, having passed her test only in May last year.

She was considered a hard-working, decent young woman who had never been in trouble before and she had shown genuine remorse for the tragedy and the loss of a young life.

“It is a responsibility and burden which sits heavily on her shoulders,” Mr Horgan said.

Haigh, now 18 of Newbold Hall Drive, Rochdale admitted causing the death of Mr Achour by dangerous driving and three charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

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She was sentenced to 30 months in a young offender institution and disqualified from driving for four years.

Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said he had reduced the sentence because of her youth at the time and her guilty plea.

“This is a tragic case to say the least not least because the young man who died had everything to live for,” he told her.

“He died in the course of this accident and others equally young and full of ambition sustained serious injuries, tragic because it was something which was so easily avoidable.

“It shows a few moments of madness or thoughtlessness on behalf of one person can ruin many lives in many ways.”

MSN Editor’s Note:

New Zealand readers seeking help with issues raised in this story please contact:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234.

He said there had to be a custodial sentence to deter others who might consider overtaking when it was clearly unsafe to do so.

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