Wednesday, 3 January 2007

The Deaths of Deborah and Charlotte Louise Peaty

On 20 October 2003, Deborah Peaty and her daughter Charlotte Louise were killed in a car crash on the A5, near Potterspury, in Northamptonshire.

Deborah, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the crash, was airlifted to Milton Keynes Hospital hospital after the accident and a baby girl was delivered by emergency Caesarian section. Deborah's family said that the child had been named Charlotte Louise at this time.

Mother and child were both pronounced dead a little while after their arrival.

Sri Lankan immigrant, Ratnam Yogan, was driving a BMW which hit the wing mirror of a car he was attempting to overtake. This car lost control as a result and collided with Deborah's Vauxhall Corsa further down the road.

Yogan stopped at the scene and paid the driver of the first car for the damage to the wing mirror. He got back into his own car and left the scene, despite the other driver pointing out the far more serious accident involving Deborah.

The police soon tracked him down, however, and he was interviewed. Yogan told them he had sold the BMW before the accident. He was not believed and the police arrested and charged him.

Speaking through an interpreter at Northampton Crown Court, Yogan entered a plea of not guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Two other men, Ramasamy Nallaikkanthan and Pushparajah Sinnappayal, pleaded not guilty to the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Against police advice, Crown Court judge, Charles Wide, bailed all three to reappear for a directions hearing at a later date. Yogan was not asked to hand over his travel documents at the time of his arrest and he returned to Sri Lanka with his wife and child. Both Nallaikkanthan and Sinnappayal also disappeared.

Deborah's's family described the decision to bail the men as 'disgusting and heartbreaking.'

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said:

"Our thoughts are with the victim's family and friends whose distress can only be compounded by this defendant's failure to attend court."
Nevertheless, a little 16 months after he fled, Yogan must have decided that life in a British prison was preferable to life in a Sri Lankan backwater because he handed himself in to the authorities.

At his first trial, He was given eight months for skipping bail. Jailing him, Judge Patrick Eccles QC said:

"I make it plain the sentence I pass is... intended to deter others who may be tempted when faced with serious charges to take the easy way out and abscond."
At the following trial, Yogan admitted causing Deborah's death and conspiring to pervert the course of justice by misleading police. At Oxford crown Court, Judge Corrie said there were no aggravating features in the case and added:

"This was a single act of driving, it betrayed a lack of skill and was erratic."
He then jailed him for two years and nine months to run concurrently with his eight-month sentence.

Deborah is seen below with Ratnam Yogan:

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