Tuesday, 9 January 2007

The Killing of Finlay Woods

On 7 January 2009, the This is London web site reported thus:

"A woman who admitted causing the death of little Finlay Woods... has been sentenced to seven years in jail.

40-year-old Katie Gutierrez-Perez had taken a cocktail of wine, cider and sleeping pills, before careering down the road in her Toyota 4x4 and ploughing into the 15-month-old outside Selwyn Primary School in Highams Park, impaling his pram against a pillar.

Sentencing the mother-of-two, who had earlier pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving and driving without insurance, Judge Timothy King said she was 'a disaster waiting to happen.' He told her:

'Clearly you were hopelessly impaired. I am sure the family think no sentence would be enough. All for a moment of madness.'

At Snaresbrook Crown Court, the court heard that Gutierrez-Perez, who had a history of alcohol problems and depression, drove away from her home in Selwyn Road knowing she was drunk and that her car had a flat-tyre, causing it to swing to the left.

Shortly before, the court heard, she had received a visit from an inspector who had noticed that her car was registered as an off-road vehicle, but was clearly being used on the road. Fearful of her car being impounded, Gutierrez-Perez drove off, despite admitting to the inspector that she was drunk and being warned by him not to get behind the wheel.

In a matter of minutes, her car swerved down Cavandish Road at an estimated 30 to 40 miles per hour, squashing traffic cones and hitting a car carrying a mother and baby. Witnesses described seeing her 'staring straight ahead with a dazed expression,' while her car swerved from side to side.

She then crashed into Finlay outside the school, and continued to rev the engine despite, seemingly unaware that the pram was 'impaled' against the pillar. The tot’s mum and passer-bys eventually managed to release the heavy car from the pram, and he was airlifted to Whipps Cross Hospital, but later died...

Appearing in court, former café owner Gutierrez-Perez sobbed. Her defence lawyer, Susan Rodham, told the court that Gutierrez-Perez had experienced a catastrophic week, after being assaulted by her husband of 18 years - who had left her - and discovering that her business had failed and her home was going to be re-posessed.

She claimed in mitigation that she had been having suicidal feelings that week and took a cocktail of drink and drugs, but decided to drive to hospital for treatment for the sake of her two children.

Sentencing Gutierrez-Perez to seven years in prison and disqualifiying her from driving for 10 years, Judge King said he had taken into consideration that she showed 'genuine remorse,' had pleaded guilty immediately, and had written a letter of apology to Finlay’s family.

The tot’s devastated parents Tina and Roger Woods, 31 and 32, said after the sentencing...

'No sentence will ever make up for his loss. In our society everybody is fond of making excuses but no mitigation could excuse such reckless and selfish behaviour. We hope that the woman who did this will never forget the pain and loss caused, because we know we never can. Every day is a living hell'."

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