A SPEEDING driver who left a teenage girl fighting for life after a horrific crash has walked free from court with a £250 fine - prompting calls for tougher sentences.
Jack David Marsh, aged 20, was speeding along the A6135 Sheffield Road at Mosborough with 14-year-old Ellie Vardy in his car when he crashed into a taxi in September 2010.
The impact left schoolgirl Ellie, from Eckington, in a coma for two months with severe head injuries, a broken neck and multiple fractures.
She has had to learn to walk and talk again.
Marsh, of Emmett Carr Lane, Renishaw, near Sheffield, was fined after pleading guilty to careless driving and was issued with six penalty points and ordered to pay costs of £850. He was also ordered to retake his driving test.
Road safety charity Brake today criticised the leniency of the sentence.
Spokesman Richard Coteau said: “Ellie has suffered life changing injuries and a £250 fine and six points on a licence is simply not a strong enough deterrent to drivers.
“It is therefore vital that judges use the full range of sentencing powers they have available, helping to prevent another devastating crash.”
Ellie’s solicitor Kate Petchey, from Sheffield-based law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “We hope this case serves as a reminder to drivers of the consequences of careless driving.”
Ellie’s parents Paul and Nicky Vardy described their daughter, now 16, as ‘brave’ and ‘inspirational’ and said in a statement: “We’re just relieved that the driver has taken responsibility and it is now over.
“All drivers need to ensure the utmost care is taken on the roads as incidents such as this can have a massive impact on people’s lives.
“It’s been a hard time for us all and a lot has happened over the past 18 months.
“It’s taken a long time but Ellie is now walking again, although she is unsteady on her feet.
“She has also learned to talk again and, even though her speech can sometimes be a bit unclear, we can understand what Ellie is saying, and it is such a relief to be able to communicate with our daughter again.
“Ellie’s recovery is far from complete but she’s working very hard to keep getting better, and she is a huge inspiration to us all. Just seeing her get back to school and doing some of the normal everyday things she is able to do is more than we ever hoped for.”