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Teen who killed friend in car crash is banned from road for 12 months

Teenager, 19, who killed her friend, 18, in car crash hours after she passed her driving test is banned from the road for 12 months

  • Katy Butler, who had just turned 18, smashed into a tree in Hamble, Hampshire
  • Passenger Abbie O’Rourke, 18, was taken to hospital but later died, court heard
  • Butler had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless/inconsiderate driving
  • She was given 18-month community order and disqualified from driving for year

A teenager who killed her friend in a car crash hours after she passed her driving test has been banned from the road for 12 months. 

Katy Butler, who had just turned 18 at the time, lost control of her vehicle on a bend just a mile from her home and smashed into a tree in Hamble, Hampshire.

Passenger Abbie O’Rourke, 18, of nearby Netley Abbey, was taken to hospital but later died, Southampton Crown Court heard. 

After stopping in the car park of a recreation ground just minutes from her home, Butler drove down a nearby country lane for the first time.

While listening to music and chatting to her friends, she lost control on a sharp bend and the silver hatchback ploughed into a tree.

Butler had picked up three friends to go for a drive in the 11-year-old Toyota Aygo after passing her test earlier that day, the court was told.

Katy Butler (pictured with her parents outside Southampton Crown Court), who had just turned 18, lost control of her vehicle on a bend and smashed into a tree in Hampshire

Passenger Abbie O’Rourke (pictured above), 18, of Netley Abbey, was taken to hospital but later died of multiple injuries, Southampton Crown Court heard

Prosecution barrister, Rose Burns, told the court Butler noticed that Abbie, who was sat behind her, was unresponsive and called the ambulance service. She then started CPR.

Ms Burns added that all of the occupants of the car were taken to hospital, however, Ms O’Rourke was later pronounced dead. 

A post-mortem revealed the teenager died of multiple injuries.

During a voluntary interview, Butler told police they had been ‘listening to music and having a bit of a laugh’. She had also never driven on the lane before and was not aware of the bend until it was too late.

A crash investigation suggested the car had been travelling within the speed limit and between 26.5mph and 33.8mph at the time.

The likely cause of the crash was a combination of factors, including Butler’s inexperience and unfamiliarity with the road, it added.

She tested negative for drugs and alcohol. 

Butler, now 19, was charged with a single count of causing death by careless/inconsiderate driving and pleaded guilty to the offence which happened on December 5, 2019.

Judge Nicholas Rowland handed Butler an 18-month community order, 80 hours of unpaid work, and disqualified her from driving for 12 months (file photo of Southampton Crown Court)

Defending, Charles Gabb said: ‘It is not something she will never forget. They were good friends, and this is the last thing in the world she would have wanted to happen to anybody.’

He stressed there had been similar collisions on the same particular stretch of road, adding: ‘You could only hope the council would do something about it.’

Judge Nicholas Rowland said it was a tragic case. He handed Butler an 18-month community order, 80 hours of unpaid work, and disqualified her from driving for 12 months.

After her death, Ms O’Rourke’s family released a tribute describing her as ‘a beautiful, talented, ambitious, intelligent, kind, giving, loving and so funny daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin’.

It said: ‘Abbie recently qualified as a practitioner at Hamble Early Years Centre where she loved working with the children.

‘Abbie will be so very sadly missed but never ever forgotten. Heaven has gained the brightest star of all.’

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