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Six years in jail for young driver who killed his teenage cousin Keely Birks

A hit-and-run driver who killed his own teenage cousin when he hit her at high speed has been jailed for six years.

After smashing his car into Keely Birks, in Harvey Road, and causing her catastrophic injuries, Peter Petrie fled the scene, abandoned his car, disposed of his clothes and hid at a friend’s house.

Derby Crown Court heard how he was found cowering behind a door just over 24 hours later and arrested.

The 28-year-old defendant held his head in his hands throughout his hour-long sentencing hearing.

And in a hugely moving victim impact statement, Keely’s mum Lisa said: “You hit my girl and left her like a feral animal and for that I will never forgive you.

“She was not just my angel she was my hero.”

Jailing Petrie of no fixed address, Judge Shaun Smith QC said: “It is impossible to know where to begin, where does any judge begin when he or she is sentencing someone whose driving whose changed the lives of so many people?

“Keely Birk was just 17 years of age when your actions took her life, she had her whole life ahead of her.

“According to those who knew her she was the most caring and loving girl.

“There was nothing she would not do for people. She was the life and soul of every place she entered.

“You were driving at 75mph in a 40mph limit and you struck Keely Birks with such force her right lower leg became detached. Keely Birks had no chance, you killed her instantly.”

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“Did you stop? No. You made the choice not to, you made off and abandoned the car streets away.

“Keely’s mum, Lisa, says life without her beautiful daughter will never be the same, she questions how she can carry on without her. Her mum has to drive down that road and says where others see flowers, she sees Keely’s body lying there.”

John Hallissey, prosecuting, said that at around 8pm on November 20 last year, Petrie jumped a red light by the Blue Peter pub and headed down Harvey Road at speeds estimated to be 75mph.

He said he struck Keely who was crossing the road and her body landed some 111m away from the point of impact.

The prosecutor said: “Having struck Keely the defendant made the decision not to stop.

“He must have known he had struck a person and rather than stop he made off and abandoned the car streets away.

“He got out of the car and ran off and disposed of the key in a garden.”



Banned driver Peter Petrie killed his own cousin in a high-speed hit-and-run crash
Banned driver Peter Petrie killed his own cousin in a high-speed hit-and-run crash

Mr Hallissey read out a victim impact statement made by Lisa Birks, Keeley’s mum.

In it she said: “You hit my girls and left her like a feral animal and for that I will never forgive you.

“She was not just my angel she was my hero.

“She had six brothers and one sister, was from a loving family and you took that from us. She was a funny, loving and caring girl loved by all her.”

A statement made by Ashton Birks, Keely’s older brother, was also read to the court.

In it he said: “She had just landed her new job as a carer for the elderly and you took away my sister’s chance of being a woman and of meeting my unborn son.



Keely Birks was killed by hit-and-run disqualified driver Peter Petrie
Keely Birks was killed by hit-and-run disqualified driver Peter Petrie

“I hope you are haunted by your actions for the rest of your life. You have ruined a family and broken hundreds of hearts.

“You killed my baby sister and then hid away like a coward. She should still be here making memories.”

And a third statement, made by Keely’s sister, Keisha read: “Why did you carry on driving? why did you not stop to help her?”

Mr Hallissey said the defendant has 23 previous convictions to his name, including many for driving matters. He said at the time of the collision he was a disqualified driver.

Earlier this week, Petrie pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

He was handed a 15-year driving ban.

Laura Pitman, mitigating, said: “One cannot begin to imagine the pain this man has caused this family and all of what I say is not to justify his actions that night.

“When he was arrested he admitted straight away he was the driver.”

Speaking after sentencing, Detective Constable Scott Cooper said: “Keely’s family have been left distraught at the loss of their young daughter, who had her whole life ahead of her.

“Petrie’s actions that night were beyond reckless and showed complete disregard for the life of another person. Sadly, Keely paid the price with her life.

“There is no sentence great enough to fill the hole that Keely’s absence has created in the lives of her family and friends. However, I hope that today’s sentencing has brought them some closure on what a nightmare has been few months.”

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