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Paper girl died after helping driver

PUBLISHED: 09:05 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:17 30 June 2010

A 15-year-old paper girl was killed in the back of a delivery van in a horrific crash after she helped an unlicensed teenage driver complete his rounds, an inquest heard yesterday.

A 15-year-old paper girl was killed in the back of a delivery van in a horrific crash after she helped an unlicensed teenage driver complete his rounds, an inquest heard yesterday.

Emily Knipe died from chest injuries after the McColls delivery van she was in the back of without a seatbelt skidded on the A143 at Fritton, near Great Yarmouth, and hit a tree in December 2008.

Her inquest at Yarmouth Magistrates Court heard that the driver of the van, Luke McNally, had breached McColls' driving policy by allowing Emily, from Hopton, and another paper girl, Demi Beresford, into his van to help him out on his round.

Mr McNally had also lied to the manager of the McColls newsagents in Belton about having a valid driving licence when he took the job of paper delivery driver two months before the fatal smash.

Last July Mr McNally was jailed for 24 weeks after he admitted causing death of Emily by driving while unlicensed - the first prosecution of its kind in Norfolk under new road safety laws.

During yesterday's inquest McNally apologised in person for the first time to Emily's family after they were told he had broken McColls' policy by allowing the girls in his van and had not told his boss that his driving licence had been revoked.

He said: “I am really sorry for the people it has affected. I know what I have done has totally wrecked your lives. I didn't think of the risks.”

Yarmouth coroner Keith Dowding heard that Mr McNally's van left the road after it hit an icy patch of the A143 at about 8.30am on Sunday, December 7, 2008.

Anthony Thorpe, who was driving in a 4x4 in the opposite direction at the time of the crash, said: “It (the vehicle) continued to slide into a full 180 degrees. It flipped over and vanished into the woods. It became airborne, struck a tree and came back on the road.

“It was a very violent spring back into the road. A girl (Demi) got out of the passenger seat, ran towards us crying for help.”

Emily, who went to Oriel Specialist Maths and Computing College and loved sports, died in the James Paget University Hospital, shortly after the accident from a blunt force trauma to her abdomen while she was in the back of the van.

Mr McNally, who was 19 at the time of the crash, suffered a punctured lung, three broken ribs, liver injuries and a fractured skull.

The inquest heard that Demi had helped him on his round about half a dozen times before, from his van, and that it was the first time Emily had assisted him.

Emily was using her paper round money to buy Christmas presents for her family.

Mr Dowding said: “Mr McNally was well aware that there should be no passengers in the vehicle without the consent of his employers.”

After hearing about the icy condition of the road and that Mr McNally appeared to be driving normally just before the accident, Mr Dowding recorded a verdict of accidental death on Emily.

After the inquest, Emily's mother, Susan Knipe, 50, from Turin Way, Hopton, said it was easy for McNally to say sorry now because he did not have to live with the full ramifications of his actions, as she had to every day.

She said: “Today has just brought back all the grief we first felt when Emily died. She was such a kind girl who could sometimes be a bit cheeky - everyone she knew loved her so much.”


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