Darlington woman sentenced for dangerous driving

A WOMAN who saw red when children from a special school threw snowballs at her car mounted a pavement and drove towards them, a court heard yesterday (Friday, February 15).

Rachel Hall was taking her youngest child to nursery in Darlington when she passed a group of pupils who had skipped lessons to play in the snow, on February 6 last year.

Teesside Crown Court heard the youngsters from Priory Hurworth House School, a specialist school for seven to 19-year-olds with complex learning difficulties, had absconded and ran into the street.

Teachers were trying to get them back when they targeted Hall, a mother-of-five from Low Beaumont Hill Farm, in Darlington.

The mum was left furious by their behaviour.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters said: “The defendant shouted out of the window: "Are you supposed to be in control of them?”

Teacher Jason Todd apologised and explained that staff were trying to get the pupils back into school.

“The defendant’s car mounted the kerb and the engine started revving,” Ms Masters said.

Teachers described seeing Hall’s Renault Scenic wheel spinning and heading for two boys who threw snowballs in her direction.

After dropping the youngest of her five children at nursery, Hall drove back along Westfield Drive with her then-17-year-old in the car and past the youngsters.

When a female pupil began making more snowballs she again mounted the kerb, onto the field where the youngsters were playing and drove at the girl.

Ms Masters said: “Mr Todd took hold of her, fearing for her safety.”

It was alleged that the girl was hit by the car and fell to the ground. She was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries to her calf and foot.

Hall, of Low Beaumont Hill Farm, Darlington, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at an earlier hearing but denied striking or injuring the girl.

Joseph Spencer, mitigating, said Hall did not have the easiest upbringing but now has a stable family life with a supportive husband and five loving children.

She was suffering severe depression linked to chronic fatigue syndrome at the time of the incident, for which she is now being treated.

Mr Spencer said: “Miss Hall is very regretful of the action of herself that day but your honour may feel the circumstances that led up to this, ie her medical condition, don’t justify but give a good explanation.”

Judge George Moorhouse sentenced Hall to three months in custody, which was suspended for 12 months. He also banned her from driving for a year and she must pass an extended test before getting back behind the wheel.

Judge Moorhouse said: “You lost your temper on this occasion, I accept you were provoked but this is a serious offence.

“Sending your car in the direction of children and staff must have been a frightening experience for them.”

A spokesperson for the school said: “We are pleased this matter has now reached its conclusion and believe the sentence clearly shows that the individual’s actions were out of proportion.”

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