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£7.25m compensation for Cheltenham girl left paralysed after crash which killed mum

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 20, 2012

  • Crash: A view of the collision in 2009 on the A436 between Andoversford and Bourton-on-the-Water which took the life of Karen Hood,

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COMPENSATION has been paid to a Cheltenham Ladies' College teenager who was left paralysed in a road crash which killed her mum.

Agnes Collier was just 13 when a BMW pulled out on the A436 at Andoversford, forcing her mum Karen Hood's Audi to collide with an oncoming lorry.

The 48-year-old mum, a teacher at Cheltenham College Junior School described as "an extraordinarily cheerful and energetic person", died.

Agnes, now 17, who has gone on to study for her AS levels, was yesterday awarded compensation at London's High Court.

The Naunton teen, who hopes to go to university, was given a £7.25 million lump sum and will receive tax-free payments of £270,000-a-year to cover the costs of her care for the rest of her life.

BMW executive, Anthony Norton walked free from court in November 2009 after pleading guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention following the smash in March 2009.

The forgiving family including Mrs Hood's widower, investment banker Dominic Collier, and Agnes said they did not want to see Norton, 45, of The Stables, Hazleton near Cirencester, sent to jail.

Norton's motor insurers agreed to the biggest pay out ever achieved in a personal injury case in England yesterday.

The court heard Agnes had achieved miracles in coming to terms with her injuries thanks to the support of her family, including brother, Rufus, who was also in the car in the crash, and her step-mother Jannene.

Rufus was 15 at the time of the pile-up, and the court heard he had made a better recovery than anyone could have foreseen.

William Norris QC, for Agnes, said: "These injuries have had a catastrophic impact on her life, but she has done remarkably well with the support of her marvellous family."

Defence counsel Benjamin Browne QC said: "There is no doubt that this was a tragedy for the entire Collier family. The most immediate was the death of Karen, who was the most devoted wife and mother.

"Her death has been a grievous blow to all of them.

"Agnes' injuries were at the very highest level of severity.

"It is difficult to imagine how a family could cope with such a heavy double blow as this one has done."

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Macduff said: "It never ceases to amaze me how people can deal with this type of adversity.

"I can't turn back the clock, but what I can do is to wish you all the very best for your future."

After the hearing, her solicitor Paul Paxton emphasised that every penny would be needed to cover the costs of the support and care Agnes would need to make the very most of her life.

In a tribute to his wife soon after her death, Mr Collier described her as a generous and popular woman. He said: "She was an extraordinarily cheerful, energetic person and nothing was ever too much trouble for her.

"She managed to balance looking after the house, her family, and career while being so supportive to me as well."

He described daughter Agnes at that time as "the most beautiful, bubbly, lively and popular kid you could hope to meet". Karen, who grew up in Buckinghamshire, married Dominic in 1991 and the couple moved to Naunton in 2000.

She gave up a successful career in marketing to become a teacher.

When sentencing Norton to a six-month jail term suspended for a year, Judge Martin Picton, said: "There are no words adequate to encompass the depth of tragedy and loss that has befallen the family as a result of this accident.

"The life of a beloved wife and mother ended. Terrible and permanent injuries were caused to a young girl who had everything to look forward to.

"Few of us can begin to imagine the awful suffering of all those affected by this event but in particular that of Mr Collier.

"The greatest punishment for Mr Norton is the knowledge of the harm that he has caused and the fact that it was avoidable."

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  • justbecause  |  November 21 2012, 8:36AM

    That amount of money seems insignificant to what this family have suffered, totally blows me away, I don't know how they are so dignified when dealing with Mr Norton; very Humbling. Hopefully they can now manage their grief and losses, moving forward with some degree of normality.

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  • Matt1006  |  November 20 2012, 11:26AM

    This payout has come from the guilty party's insurers. Clear-cut liability. But who is the liable party for injured soldiers...??? Perhaps best not to take that discussion any further. Anthony Norton was lucky (probably not the right word) not to go to prison. I assume he got a lengthy driving ban? And with a £7m plus claim against his policy, plus the £270k a year for life thereafter, I'd guess he's going to struggle to ever get motor insurance in his name ever again, and rightly so. A moment's recklessness kills one person and ruins another's life. Mr. Norton will live with that for the rest of his life.

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  • disco2disco  |  November 20 2012, 10:33AM

    Pretty different circumstances Geraint. An adult joins the army knowing the risk of death and injury is high prior to enlisting. A 13 year old sitting in a car that has an accident caused by the carelessness of someone else has made no such choice. Yes the injuries and outcomes are similar and yes the government should be doing more but as Raider suggests, perhaps the government could do more if the system was not being abused so much by so many. However knowing the outcome of many of their colleagues, I would imagine that private insurance would be high on my list of priorities especially knowing the situation regarding the inadequate compensation.

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  • geraint2010  |  November 20 2012, 9:41AM

    Presumably all our lads, crippled in the line of duty in Afghanistan and elsewhere, can now to look forward to similar compensation packages?

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  • raidermanuk  |  November 20 2012, 9:18AM

    Wow that's a lot of money but I'm sure that Agnes needs every penny of it to help her cope with her life changing paralysis. What it does highlight is the plight of many others in similar situations where negligence of another party is either absent or not proven and there is no insurance pay-out. The state does its best in these circumstances but it could be a lot better for these people if it were not for the gross abuse of the liars and cheats who leach money out of the system.

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