Innocent mother-of-five Joanne Collinge, 34, was killed in a head-on collision after a car – that was part of a reckless chase – ploughed into the VW Polo she was driving
Two feuding yobs who killed an innocent mother-of-five in a head-on road smash while they were chasing each other at 70mph were jailed for a total of 23 years today.
Joanne Collinge, 34, was travelling in Wigan, Manchester, when her car was hit.
Joseph Pownall, 27, was using a pick-up truck to tailgate and ram a Mercedes C220 being driven by Lewis Fisher, 21.
Fisher lost control and ploughed into a VW Polo, driven by Mrs Collinge who was on her way to a barbecue with her husband and two of her children.
Mrs Collinge suffered multiple injuries in the impact and died later that day in hospital.
Her 12-year-old daughter Kenzie suffered serious arm, leg and hip injuries in the smash while Mrs Collinge’s husband Andy, 29, suffered fractures to his ribs and forearm.
The couple’s four-year-old daughter Autumn suffered a fractured collarbone.
In the moments before the impact Fisher had been seen ‘smiling and laughing’ as he looked in the rear-view mirror while trying to shake off Pownall who was angry at him and two friends for smashing the rear window of his VW Amorok 4×4 at a nearby pub.
Pownall ploughed into the back of Fisher’s Mercedes after the crash but he sped off from the scene.
He returned to the pub and asked his stepbrother to falsely claim the vehicle had been stolen.
Joseph Pownall, 27, (right) and Lewis Fisher, 21, (left) were jailed for a total of 23 years today. Pownall was jailed for 12 years and Fisher was jailed for 11 years
Fisher lost control and ploughed into a VW Polo, driven by Mrs Collinge that was travelling in the opposite direction in Wigan, Manchester. Pictured: The truck driven by Pownall then hits him from behind
When he was later locked up to face trial, he posted a callous message on Facebook bragging about when he was coming home boasting: ‘They can lock the lock but they can’t stop the clock.’
At Manchester Crown Court, Pownall, of Golborne, Wigan, admitted death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and conspiracy to pervert justice and was jailed for 12 years.
Fisher, also of Wigan, was convicted of causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving and was jailed for 11 years.
After the chase, Pownall then ploughed into the back of the Mercedes, being driven by Fisher, propelling it across the carriageway and into a garden wall which was destroyed by the force of the impact
The tragedy occurred on April 20 at 5.30pm.
Mrs Collinge, who had three children from a previous relationship, and her husband had dropped off their eight-year-old daughter Indiya with their grandmother ahead of them attending a BBQ at a neighbour’s home.
Fisher, who was in a borrowed car, was with two friends when they noticed Pownall’s truck parked outside the Bryn Hall pub.
One of the passengers had been locked in a bitter feud with Pownall’s family so Fisher pulled over in a nearby alleyway and allowed his friend to throw a brick through the rear-view window the truck.
In the moments before the impact, Fisher had been seen ‘smiling and laughing’ as he looked in the rear view mirror while trying to shake off Pownall who was angry at him and two friends for smashing the rear window of his VW Amorok 4×4 at a nearby pub
Prosecutor Andrew O’Byrne QC said: ‘That was seen by a female member of the public and she went into the pub to find the owner.
‘A number of people, including Pownall, went outside to check the damage and once outside Pownall got into his VW and drove off to find the Mercedes.
‘Members of the public pointed to which direction the Mercedes had gone.
‘As Pownall pulled out to begin his journey, he almost collided with a vehicle behind him. The journey was around two and a half miles long. The majority of it took place on a road subject to a 30mph speed limit but they were travelling at speeds of 70mph or more.
‘Prior to the fatal accident the VW Amarok was very close to the Mercedes and there was a suggestion by Lewis Fisher that his vehicle was rammed before the collision causing the crash or contributing to the crash.
Prosecutor Andrew O’Byrne QC said: ‘The journey was around two and a half miles long. The majority of it took place on a road subject to a 30mph speed limit but they were travelling at speeds of 70mph or more’
‘The VW was being driven less than a cars length behind the Mercedes and the cars were being driven at exceptional speed.
‘They were passing other vehicles with total disregard for the safety of others and it was described by witnesses as excessive and dangerous. One witness said the two cars were ridiculous, shameless and irrational and irresponsible.’
Witness Olga Larson, who was driving home, said: ‘I saw the driver of the Mercedes and he was not even looking ahead, he was looking in the rear mirror and smiling and laughing. I said to my husband if they didn’t cause an accident then it would be a miracle, it was unavoidable.
‘I knew for a certainty that he was looking at the mirror with a big wide grin on his face and I know he was laughing. He was having a joke, it was fun to him.’
Eventually as Fisher attempted to negotiate a bend, he lost control and the Mercedes veered onto the wrong side of the road and hit Mrs Collinge’s VW Polo causing it to spin 180 degrees.
Pownall’s stepbrother Steven Fairclough, 46, (pictured) agreed to call police to falsely report the VW stolen but Pownall subsequently handed himself in. Fairclough admitted conspiracy to pervert justice
Pownall then ploughed into the back of the Mercedes propelling it across the carriageway and into a garden wall which was destroyed by the force of the impact.
As Mrs Collinge lay dying, Pownall drove away and dumped the vehicle off in a side street before asking a friend to drive him back to the pub where he was seen ‘waving his arms’ and making ‘punching movements’ and demonstrating to fellow regulars what happened.
His stepbrother Steven Fairclough, 46, agreed to call police to falsely report the VW stolen but Pownall subsequently handed himself in.
Pownall claimed he had been ‘threatened in the past’ and said he refused to stop his car because ‘lots of people’ were in the Mercedes and they might attack him.
Fisher, who did not have a driving licence and was uninsured, claimed he had been ‘frightened’ of Pownall so drove as fast as he could to get away from him.
In a statement Mr Collinge said: ‘All I can remember hearing is a bang, I was in and out of consciousness as the car spun backwards. Once it came to a stop everything was smashed and we were in someone’s garden.
‘I have an image of my wife as she looked at me and I knew she had severe injuries. I knew she was dying and I couldn’t do anything at all.
‘After that, all I remember was waking up in Manchester Hospital. At home I cannot sleep and I recall the crash in my dreams and I keep waking up in cold sweats. In the two weeks after I spoke to three companies a day trying to explain her death.
‘I have become depressed and I am in £2,000 debt. I cannot explain how life is for our two daughters aged four and eight. The youngest doesn’t like the sound of sirens or cars anymore. She remembers everything from the spinning around to the screaming.
Witness Olga Larson, who was driving home, said: ‘I saw the driver of the Mercedes and he was not even looking ahead, he was looking in the rear mirror and smiling and laughing. I said to my husband if they didn’t cause an accident then it would be a miracle, it was unavoidable’
‘I can’t go anywhere without her as she is fearful she will not see me again. I have also seen that Joseph Pownall has been on Facebook in prison saying ‘you can lock the lock but you can’t stop the clock’.
In mitigation for Pownall Nigel Edwards QC said: ‘He describes this as a few moments of madness causing pain and indescribable destruction to the family. He drove away in panic and is deeply regretful. There was a deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road.
‘He wishes to express through me he’s very, very sorry both for the stupidity and madness that took place that day. If he can offer anything to the family, he will. He also offers his sincere condolences.’
As Mrs Collinge lay dying, Pownall drove away and dumped the vehicle off in a side street before asking a friend to drive him back to the pub. Pictured: CCTV shows the vehicles before the crash
Sentencing Judge Richard Mansell QC said: ‘This was a prolonged persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving in which you drove at greatly excessive speeds.
‘You, Fisher, overtook other vehicles in your attempts to lose Pownall with complete disregard to other road users. You, Pownall, drove far too close to the vehicle in front, ramming it from the rear at least once and all this over a period in excess of a mile. Your recent post on social media from prison suggesting you have a life ahead of you despite being locked up was insensitive to say the least.
‘By your senseless act of aggression you have brought unimaginable tragedy to bear on this family. No sentence can possibly compensate them for the devastating loss and grief they have suffered and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives.’
Pownall was also banned from driving for ten and a half years while Fisher was banned for ten years.
Father-of-three Fairclough, 42, from Golborne, Wigan admitted conspiracy to pervert justice and was sentenced to 12 months jail suspended for a year and ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work.