Driver who killed scooter rider while sending winking selfie is jailed

Potter was driving at around 70mph and Sinar at about 40mph, but she failed to slow down because she was distracted by her phone
Amber Potter was driving at around 70mph and Sinar at about 40mph, but she failed to slow down because she was distracted by her phone - EASTERN DAILY PRESS/SWNS

A woman drove into the back of a scooter and killed its rider while sending a winking selfie to her boyfriend on her mobile phone.

Amber Potter, 23, exchanged a series of messages with her partner and took photos at the wheel while on a journey from Glastonbury to Norfolk.

She was jailed for three-and-a-half years at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday for causing the death by dangerous driving of David Sinar, 64.

She had hit his Lambretta with her Vauxhall Corsa on the A11 in Roudham, Norfolk.

Potter was driving at around 70mph and Sinar was travelling at about 40mph, but she failed to slow down or overtake him because she was distracted by her phone.

The court heard she was in the process of sending a selfie picture of her sticking her tongue out and winking to her boyfriend.

Mr Sinar, from North Walsham, had bought the scooter earlier that day. He died from his injuries at the scene following the crash on the dual carriageway at about 9.30pm on Sept 15, 2021.

Mr Sinar was a 'very competent' motorcyclist who had over the years owned everything from Harley-Davidsons to scooters
Mr Sinar was a 'very competent' motorcyclist who had over the years owned everything from Harley-Davidsons to scooters - EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said Potter had taken pictures of herself and exchanged phone and Facebook messages with her boyfriend and others.

She had been travelling home to Norwich from Glastonbury, Somerset, where she had been visiting friends.

Of 55 messages found on her phone during the period of the journey, 20 were ones she had sent together with audio clips with background road noise, suggesting she was driving at the time.

She later claimed to police that the rear lights on Mr Sinar’s scooter had not been on when she crashed into the back of him but CCTV at a garage had proved it was lit.

Judge Katharine Moore told her: “He was there for all drivers to see – all those who had their eyes on the road that is.”

Potter pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving.

The court was told she had been so distracted that skid marks on the road proved she had not braked before hitting the scooter at 70mph.

Judge Moore said her use of a phone to exchange selfies while at the wheel had been “gravely inappropriate” and had caused a “grossly avoidable distraction”.

Matthew McNiff, mitigating, said Potter using her phone periodically on the journey had been “sporadic stupidity”.

He added: “She does recognise the terrible damage that she has done, that a life has been lost and that she has to live with that.

“She is not callous. Her remorse is genuine and heartfelt.”

Shortly before his death, Mr Sinar, a former vehicle inspector and motor parts delivery driver, had semi-retired to spend more time with his 95-year-old mother who had moved to Norfolk from Birmingham to be close to him.

His family said he was a “very competent” motorcyclist who had over the years owned everything from Harley-Davidsons to scooters. He had bought the new Lambretta on the day of his death.

He was also a passionate cyclist and over the years had raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities on rides including from John O’Groats to Land’s End, after having recovered from cancer in 2011.

In a statement, which was read in court, describing the family’s loss, his wife said he had been her “best friend and soulmate” and that he had been “cruelly taken from us”.

She said: “I will never forgive Amber Potter for what she has done to our family.

“She could have avoided it if she had simply obeyed the rules of the road.”

Judge Moore told Potter his family had been left in “complete devastation” by her actions.

She said Potter was a “kind, compassionate, hard-working and caring individual in normal circumstances” but that her actions had been criminal.

Banning her from driving for 45 months and ordering her to take a mandatory retest, she added: “No life can be gauged by the length of a sentence.”

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