THE mother of a young woman who died in a collision has spoken of her anguish after the driver walked free from court – despite having no licence or insurance at the time of the smash.

Francine Harrison said her eight-year-old granddaughter had lost her mother “for the sake of a six month driving ban” and that her entire family was appalled that driver Daniel Anthony Podmore had been let off so lightly.

Christine Harrison, 28, was a rear passenger in a car driven by Podmore along the A66 Bridge Road, Darlington, when it hit a patch of standing water and careered off the road, hitting trees.

The mother-of-one died at the scene, while Podmore, 27, was left with brain damage following the crash on March 9. Three other passengers escaped serious injury.

Podmore, of Severn Way, Darlington, escaped prosecution for Ms Harrison’s death because it was judged he did not cause the crash by the manner of his driving, despite being illegally on the road.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had initially considered charging Podmore with causing death while driving unlicenced or uninsured, but that a Supreme Court ruling in July had effectively removed that offence.

Podmore pleaded guilty to driving without insurance and without a licence at Darlington Magistrates’ Court, where he was fined £300, ordered to pay costs of £105 and banned from driving for six months.

The sentence drew gasps of horror from Miss Harrison’s family and friends in the public gallery.

Francine Harrison, who is now caring for her grandaughter, Shaney Leigh, said the six month driving ban handed to Podmore was “a licence to kill”.

She said: “We are just upset at what we have lost. I’m very confused about why he was not charged with Christine’s death.

“When he got in that car he was responsible for all their lives and that’s how we see it. They said there was water on the road but I’m not happy with that.”

Mrs Harrison said her granddaughter was also struggling to understand why Podmore was only given a six month ban.

In sentencing, District Judge Adrian Lower said: “If it is felt that this is an insufficient punishment, that is a matter for those who make the law and those in Parliament, not those who have to apply it.

“Due to a recent Court of Appeal decision, convictions for causing death can only be returned if there is evidence that the manner of driving contributed to that consequence.

“However, it would be wrong not to acknowledge that as a result of you being on the road in the first place, where you had no business being, a friend of yours tragically lost her life.

“No sentence I can impose can make up for the loss of life or offer any comfort to Miss Harrison’s family or friends and it will not begin to measure what you have to live with as a consequence of the decision you took.

“Mr Podmore, you foolishly decided to do this knowing full well you had no right being behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

Graham Hunsley, mitigating for Podmore, said: “The police investigation found no fault in the manner of his driving.

“He had intended to apply for a test and felt confident he would pass it but he never took the time off work to do it and that cost him dearly.

“He has expressed sincere regret at what happened to Christine Harrison and wishes to make that regret public.”

Podmore was jointly sentenced with the owner of the car, Mark Raine, 37, of Pateley Moor Crescent, Darlington, who pleaded guilty to permitting the use of a motor vehicle with no insurance and no licence.

He was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £105.

Representing himself, Raine said he had asked Podmore if he was insured and believed he was.

He added: “If I thought for one minute he was not, I wouldn’t have let him drive.”

  • THE decision not to charge Daniel Podmore in relation to Christine Harrison’s death came after a judgement made by the Supreme Court on July 31.

Carrying a sentence of up to two years imprisonment, the law was introduced by the Labour Government to crack down on illegal drivers involved in fatal accidents but it was applied regardless of who was at fault for the death.

The case involved Michael Hughes, from Carlisle, who was driving while uninsured and unlicenced when he was hit by an oncoming vehicle, which killed the other driver, James Dickinson.

The case went through several appeals before being heard by the Supreme Court this year, which ruled that the police were wrong to prosecute Mr Hughes for Mr Dickinson’s death.

Chris Enzor, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS North-East, said: “After careful consideration of the facts in this case there was insufficient evidence to suggest that Podmore’s driving could be considered either careless or inconsiderate, or that the actual standard of his driving had contributed in some way to the death of Christine Harrison.”