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