Shropshire Star

Family left with 'life sentence' after driver jailed for killing Charlotte, 19

The father of a 19-year-old Shropshire woman killed by a dangerous driver has told how the punishment is nothing compared to his family's "life sentence".

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Wing Commander Neil Hope and Helen Hope have spoken of their pain at the loss of their daughter, Charlotte

Ashley Kosciekowski was jailed for six years and four months after admitting causing the death of Charlotte Hope, from Shawbury, by dangerous driving.

Shrewsbury Crown Court had heard how he hit Charlotte's vehicle head-on after overtaking three cars at around 80mph, on the A53, near Upper Astley, on April 9 this year.

The trainee primary school teacher was driving back from picking up her mother, Helen Hope, from Shrewsbury when they were hit.

Charlotte was killed instantly and Mrs Hope was seriously injured in the crash.

Jailed: Ashley Kosciekowski

Kosciekowski will serve three years and two months before he is eligible for release on license.

Speaking after the sentence Charlotte's father, Wing Commander Neil Hope, told of the family's disappointment at the punishment.

He said: "Three years and a month for the life of our daughter is just nothing at all.

"We have got a life sentence, he has got three years."

During a harrowing court hearing, both Wg Cdr Hope and his wife, Helen, read moving statements about their daughter, and the impact of the tragedy.

Charlotte Hope revisiting the Restart charity in Kenya where she had previously volunteered

He told how Charlotte, who was at university, had worked "so hard to progress through school", and had overcome "sometimes horrendous anxiety" to become "an amazing and beautiful young woman".

Mrs Hope told of the horror of waking up in hospital to discover her daughter had died.

She said: "I have no recollection of the collision, which I am both thankful for and agonise over. I can only hope that she didn’t suffer or realise what had happened.

"The first thing I recall is being in hospital with an oxygen mask and hospital gown on. A nurse informed me I’d been in a motor vehicle accident.

"I remembered that I had been in a car and that Charlotte was with me. I asked where Charlotte was, fully expecting her to be in a bed near me out of sight, and the nurse informed me she had died at the scene.

The fatal crash happened on the A53, close the Dog in the Lane pub, at Upper Astley. Photo: Google.

"At that moment my world fell apart – it felt as though my heart had been ripped out. Charlotte was my only child and Neil’s only daughter, our baby.

"She was my future, everything I did and aspired to was with her in mind. I have always tried to stay fit and healthy so that I would be around as long as possible to support her, now I feel as if there is no future worth having without her in it."

Mrs Hope also told how she has been left racked by 'what-ifs' over the day her daughter died.

She said: "I constantly think it should have been me instead of her and torture myself with questions like, why didn’t I drive?

"Why didn’t I go shopping before phoning to be picked up? Why didn’t I do anything to have changed the time that she picked me up so that we wouldn’t have been on the road at that time.

"I do not think that I will ever be able to stop torturing myself with these questions and these are thoughts that I will have to live with for the rest of my life."

Wg Cdr Hope said he was haunted by the memory of the day Charlotte died.

He said: "On the day she died we had dropped her mum off in Shrewsbury then gone to Telford together for food and a walk around the shops.

"She was so happy. She had her hair cut that morning, ready for the start of her university placement in a primary school from the next Monday, and was looking forward to going out that night with her friends.

"She had tanned the night before and was not fussed as I gently wound her up about the look.

"When we got back her mum called for me to pick her up in Shrewsbury. Charlotte said she would go. I said 'No, as you are going out'. She said she had time and loved driving. As she left, as always, I said drive carefully. She responded 'I will' and 'love you'. I responded with the same.

"The horrendous events that followed will haunt me for the rest of my life. Even though I was not there, the pain of constantly remembering the police arriving, that message, more pain. The agonising worry if Helen would survive and how bad her injuries may be. The loss of ‘my 19-year-old baby girl’. The nightmare images of her lying, lifeless on the road haunts me."

He added: "The loss of Charlotte can never be underestimated. She was at the beginning of what would undoubtedly have been an amazing journey, an amazing life. She would surely have found love, marriage and had wonderful children of her own.

"I am thankful she did not suffer but I am distraught that she could not live her life, a life she deserved.

"I am thankful she will never have heartache and never have the pain of losing loved ones, but I am crippled by the pain Helen, and I are feeling and will continue to feel for the rest of our lives.

"Charlotte was our world. She was everything to us. For Helen, she was her only child and everything she had ever wanted. A perfect daughter, her best friend in the world. They were inseparable.

"The anguish I feel each waking hour by the loss of ‘my baby girl’ is echoed by the pain I see my wonderful Helen going through, a pain that makes me so angry and so very sad."

Wg Cdr Hope said they would strive to continue Charlotte's legacy through fundraising for the causes she believed in – such as the Restart charity in Kenya where she had volunteered, and intended to return.

He said: "I would do anything to turn back time, to stop the pain. Charlotte Elizabeth Hope, I will strive to maintain your legacy until the day we can be together again. I love and miss you baby girl."

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