Mum's fury over killer drink driver

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ruth War­ran­der

A HEARTBROKEN mum to­day said a killer driver may as well have stabbed her daugh­ter.

The griev­ing rel­a­tives of Laura Thomas spoke out af­ter Ian Smith ad­mit­ted

“She can never

be re­placed”

caus­ing the teenager’s death. As re­vealed in later edi­tions of yes­ter­day’s Evening Ex­press, Smith pleaded guilty to caus­ing death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing while over the legal drink-drive limit.

To­day Laura’s mum Sherri said: “To me, Ian Smith might as well have stabbed her to death. He killed her.

“He’s still out en­joy­ing his life but Laura can’t. He’s cel­e­brated Christ­mas, birthdays, but we've had to all of that with­out Laura.”

But Sherri said no jail sen­tence would bring back her “bub­bly” daugh­ter.

“We will be look­ing for jus­tice, but what­ever sen­tence he gets, it won’t be good enough – Laura can never be re­placed,” she said.

The dev­as­tated mum was at the High Court in Glas­gow with her part­ner Steve Jef­feries; Laura’s dad Adrian and his fam­ily; Laura’s sis­ter Kelly, 18, and Laura’s friends, as Smith lodged his guilty plea.

Sherri, 42, said: “At least it was proved to ev­ery­body that Laura was com­pletely in­no­cent in re­la­tion to the cause of the crash.

“He’s still walk­ing around free, but I think we’ll feel dif­fer­ent when he’s sen­tenced and he doesn’t get to walk out through the same doors as we do.”

The fam­ily said for­mer Banff Academy pupil Laura – who was known as Laura Gaga be­cause of her love of the wacky pop star Lady Gaga – was ex­tremely pop­u­lar.

Sherri’s part­ner Steve said: “Laura was so bub­bly – you didn’t even have to know her and within two min­utes of be­ing in her com­pany you would feel like you’d known her for years – that’s what she was like.”

Sherri added: “All eyes were on her – and she loved play­ing up to the at­ten­tion.”

The fam­ily said Laura – who lived in Rose­hearty – loved driv­ing her black Ford Ka, which she called Mar­ley, and would rather spend her money on petrol than nights out.

Sherri said: “She would al­ways vol­un­teer to pick up her friends and fam­ily – any ex­cuse to drive, she loved it.”

The tragic teenager who stud­ied hair­dress­ing at Banff and Buchan col­lege, had also worked in her mum’s sec­ond-hand shop Aladdin’s, in Fraserburgh.

Sherri said she had not been able to have her busi­ness back in full op­er­a­tion since Laura’s death.

“Laura was the last per­son to work there, so it was very dif­fi­cult for me to go back in the shop,” she said. “She was the last per­son to touch ev­ery­thing. It was very hard.”

Friends and fam­ily gath­ered at the Gar­den Arms in Gar­den­stown – where her mum lives – on Fe­bru­ary 9, to cel­e­brate, what would have been Laura’s 20th birth­day.

Sherri said: “We threw a big party with lots of bal­loons, cakes and Chinese lanterns. It was a re­ally good turn out.”

Laura, who had been pick­ing friends up, suf­fered se­vere head in­juries and was killed in­stantly in the col­li­sion on A891 Strichen to Mem­sie road in Septem­ber last year.

Smith was driv­ing on the south­bound car­riage­way when he lost con­trol of his Re­nault Me­gane.

Crash scene in­ves­ti­ga­tors es­ti­mated he was driv­ing at speeds be­tween 71mph and 81mph at the time of the crash.

Judge Lord Bra­cadale de­ferred sen­tence un­til next month and Smith was re­leased on bail.

He was banned from driv­ing in the mean­time.

GUILTY: Ian Smith caused the crash that killed Laura.

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