Man jailed for causing death of young mum Naomi Buckle

Harry Elliott

A man has been jailed for two years for causing the death of his friend by dangerous driving.

Harry Elliott, 25, was driving his high-performance Audi RS3 at “excessive speeds” before the fatal crash on the B6265 at Risplith near Ripon, a court heard today.

The Audi, which was carrying four passengers including 20-year-old Naomi Buckle from Catterick Garrison, crashed into a tree after Elliott lost control on a blind bend, York Crown Court was told.

The mother-of-one, whose seatbelt was under her arm and around her stomach, was shunted forward by the impact and suffered a haemorrhage.

An ambulance was called but Naomi, described as a “beautiful, perfect” daughter, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutor Eleanor Fry said that Elliott had been driving his friends, including Naomi and three young men, from the Scotch Corner Hotel to Brimham Rocks in Summerbridge when the crash occurred in the early hours of December 19, 2019.

Naomi Buckle.

She said the atmosphere inside the car had been “somewhat hyper” and loud music was blaring. Elliott had been warned by his friends on at least one occasion to slow down.

Naomi and her boyfriend, who was also a passenger, had been picked up by Elliott after they finished work.

She was sat in the back seat with her seat belt on, but evidence suggested she had moved the upper part of her seat belt under her arm.

Ms Fry said that Elliott’s mobile phone was on the dashboard, blaring loud music, and video footage from another phone showed that the passengers were “shouting and cheering”.

The Audi was initially travelling down the A1(M) at an average speed of 94mph but at some points “significantly faster”.

It then moved onto the A6005 where it continued to drive at over the speed limit in wet conditions. The Audi then turned onto the B6265 which had no street lighting and along which were warning signs about bends in the road and the need for careful driving.

“It was about 2am and dark,” said Ms Fry.

“It was raining. The ground was wet and the car was laden with five people.”

The Audi was travelling at “high speeds”, thought to be 69mph, as it approached a sharp, blind bend and veered out of control. Elliott slammed on the brakes, but the car struck a tree.

Naomi, who had a three-year-old daughter at the time of the crash, was shunted forward and suffered a haemorrhage.

A road-accident expert later concluded that if the seat belt had been fitted properly, it might have saved her life.

An ambulance was called and Elliott and his friend tried to resuscitate Naomi, but her condition deteriorated by the time the emergency services arrived and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The three other passengers, who were named in court, all suffered serious injuries. One suffered broken ribs and a fractured hand, breastbone and coccyx. Another passenger suffered a fractured wrist and breastbone and broken ribs.

Naomi’s boyfriend, with whom she had been living, suffered two spinal fractures, suspected broken ribs and whiplash.

Elliott, who suffered minor injuries, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving. He was also initially charged with three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

He ultimately admitted causing Naomi’s death by dangerous driving on the first day of his trial in June after initially denying the offence. The three remaining charges relating to the three male passengers were allowed to lie on court file.

Elliott appeared for sentence today – two-and-a-half years after the fatal crash which the prosecution described as “truly tragic”.

Ms Fry said that Elliott – who had drunk two pints some time before getting behind the wheel but was not over the limit – had driven “over-confidently, at speed”, on roads he knew very well “no doubt encouraged by the atmosphere in the car and the music”.

In a statement read out in court, Naomi’s father Gary Buckle said that Naomi was a “beautiful, perfect” daughter.

He said that when Naomi’s late mother Elaine received the terrible call on December 19 “it was the start of what can only be described as hell for our family for over three years”.

He said his wife’s heart was broken after they got the “dreadful knock on the door” to be told their beloved daughter had died.

“It completely broke me,” he added.

“She had so much to live for.”

He said his wife’s already-fragile health deteriorated after Naomi’s death and she too passed away in 2021.

“She never saw justice for Naomi and died with so many unanswered questions,” added Mr Buckle.

Defence barrister Dan Cordey said that Elliott was “genuinely remorseful” for causing the death of his close friend.

Judge Sean Morris told Elliott he had caused the death of a “much-loved and dear young woman”.

“This has devastated the lives of Naomi’s family and nothing I can do in this case will help heal or fill the chasm of loss that they must feel and will continue to feel for the rest of their lives,” he added.

“Young men in fast cars must understand that they drive lethal weapons.”

Elliott, of Anteforth View, Gilling West, received a two-year jail sentence but will only serve half of that behind bars before being released on prison licence.

He was banned from driving for three years.

Sergeant Mark Patterson, Senior Investigating Officer, said after the sentencing: “This is such a needless loss of a young life, something that could have been avoided.

“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of driving to the road conditions and complying with rules of the road. The rules are in place for a reason.

“Do not overestimate your driving ability and while there is no doubt where the responsibility for Naomi’s death lies, please, please make sure that fasten your seatbelt correctly.

“Naomi’s family have shown incredible courage and bravery throughout this ordeal. They have suffered more than any prison sentence could compensate them for.”

1 Comment

  1. There are far too many of these idiots on our roads they always overestimate their abilities .Two years is an insult to that poor family .The police need to be much more pro-active on road safety .

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