Lewis Griffiths-Bungard and fiancee Hannah Marrion, of Hordle, jailed over hit-and-run crash death of Jill Stevens on Old Milton Road, New Milton
A COUPLE have both been jailed after a former nurse was killed in a high-speed hit-and-run crash on a New Milton road.
Jill Stevens (75) was pronounced dead at the scene after the car driven by Lewis Griffiths-Bungard (26), of Vaggs Lane in Hordle, ploughed into her as she crossed Old Milton Road on the evening of 24th March 2022.
Today (Tuesday) at Southampton Crown Court, Griffiths-Bungard was sentenced to 27 months in prison after admitting causing death by careless driving. He also admitted driving without insurance or a licence.
His fiancée Hannah Marrion (28), also of Vaggs Lane in Hordle, admitted perverting the course of justice after it was discovered she lied about allowing him to use her vehicle. She was handed a six-month custodial sentence
Prosecutor Siobhan Lindsay told the court the pair had been drinking with friends at the Cliff House Hotel in Barton on the night of the accident.
Griffiths-Bungard, who had drunk two double whiskeys with Coke, was seen leaving the pub in Marrion’s Citroen C1 at around 7.20pm.
Marrion was seen waving him off, she added.
The court heard he went to Tesco in New Milton, where he bought cigarettes, before heading back to meet Marrion.
Travelling on Old Milton Road at speeds of up to 53mph, despite the 30mph limit, he hit Miss Stevens as she crossed the road.
Ms Lindsay said: “She was thrown onto the bonnet and the windscreen, and landed on the road.
“The defendant did not stop, and drove away from the scene at high speed.
“Had he been travelling at 30mph, Miss Stevens would have reached the other side of the road safely or he would have had time to stop.
“Due to his high speed, the collision was simply unavoidable”.
A member of the public called 999 but Miss Stevens, who suffered severe head injuries, could not be revived.
The court head that Griffiths-Bungard drove back to the Cliff House Hotel to show Marrion the damage to her vehicle.
Around 8.15pm, Griffiths-Bungard returned to the scene and told a police officer: “I was involved in this accident.”
He also said he had been driving his partner’s car and added: “She’s not aware I took it”.
Ms Lindsay explained Griffiths-Bungard then undertook “an act of theatre” by calling Marrion on his mobile phone and telling her he had been involved in a crash.
This showed “remarkable presence of mind”, said Ms Lindsay.
He was crying and told police “his life was over”.
In interview, he told police a pedestrian had “suddenly stepped out” in front of him and he had taken evasive action.
However, the court heard there was no evidence of emergency braking.
Marrion told police she had not given Griffiths-Bungard, who was her boyfriend at the time but to whom she is now engaged, permission to drive her car.
She also failed to mention to police she had seen him after the crash and saw the damage to her car.
The court heard she later reported the vehicle as stolen to her insurers and tried to claim for the damage.
However, she later admitted to police she had frequently allowed Griffiths-Bungard to use her car as she thought he was “a safe driver”.
A victim impact statement read by Miss Stevens’ niece on behalf of the family described their loss as “enormous”.
A retired district nurse who lived in nearby Compton Road, she was “an absolute rock” to her family.
The statement said: “Our lives are not the same without her.
“This untimely and atrocious death has impacted the whole family.”
Turning to Miss Stevens’ family in court, Anabelle Haslett, defending Griffiths-Bungard, told the court: “Nothing he or I can say can take away your pain, but he is sincerely sorry.”
She said he had “a misguided sense of chivalry” towards Marrion and “simply did not want her to get into trouble”.
He was addressing his substance and alcohol misuse, she said, adding the crash had been “a wake-up call”.
He was “wracked with guilt” and suffered nightmares and PTSD.
“He will live with this for the rest of his life,” she added.
Richard Martin, defending Marrion, told the court she had behaved “utterly out of character”.
“She had sat on her position for some time but when she did finally admit to her wrongdoing she has shown remorse,” he said.
She was vulnerable and suffered from mental health issues, he added.
Being sent to prison would have a “significantly harmful impact” on her family, particularly her elderly grandmother for whom she helped to look after, he said, as he urged judge Nicholas Rowland to impose a suspended sentence.
Judge Rowland said Miss Stevens had been “devoted to helping others”.
“No sentence of any length can undo what has been done”, he told the defendants.
Turning to Griffiths-Bungard he said: “You should not have been behind the wheel at the car, but you were repeatedly.
“Jill Stevens went to cross the road – a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
“If you had been driving at the legal speed, you might have had a chance to brake and avoid the collision.
“You didn’t stop at the scene, knowing full well you had hit someone.”
Turning to Marrion he said: “It was your car, and for some reason you allowed your boyfriend to drive.
“Both of you must have known something serious had happened.
“Lewis, you returned to scene and went through quite a charade pretending you were calling [Marrion] to tell her what had happened when it is obvious you both had already discussed what you were going to do.”
He said Marrion had been “remarkably calm” in the recorded call to her insurance company, in which she told them she had not given him permission to drive.
“You maintained that account for many months,” he said.
In addition to the prison sentence, Griffiths-Bungard was banned from driving for four years.