A SPEEDING driver released after serving half of her prison sentence for causing the death of a 13-year-old schoolgirl will go back behind bars if she enters Taunton.
Leanne Burnell, 22, was freed last Thursday, 21 months into her 3½-year term for her part in the death of cyclist Amy Hofmeister in June 2011 in Blackbrook Way.
As one of the conditions of her licence, Burnell is banned from entering an area including Taunton and Bishop’s Hull, her home at the time of the crash and where her parents still live.
The order was imposed at the end of her stint in Eastwood Park women’s prison, Gloucestershire, where she gave birth 18 months ago to a daughter.
It will avoid Amy’s family and friends the trauma of coming face-to-face with one of the two people responsible for her death – Burnell and her former boyfriend, Leonard Jones, were racing each other in their own cars leading up to the tragedy.
The car driven by Jones, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, hit Amy, but Burnell was found guilty of the same charge by a jury who heard she was racing him along the 30mph stretch of road.
Amy’s mother, Jane Hofmeister, told the County Gazette: “Yes, I’ve been informed that Leanne Burnell has now been released having served 21 months of her 3½-year sentence. I have also been informed of an exclusion zone preventing Leanne Burnell from entering Taunton until January 2016.
“Sadly for myself, Amy’s brother and the rest of her family and friends, our life sentence continues.”
Burnell denied causing Amy’s death during her trial, but she was originally sent down for 18months after being found guilty - that was judged too lenient at appeal, when her sentence was more than doubled.
While Burnell, who was also banned from driving for two years at her trial, would be returned to custody if she breached the exclusion order, she could also go back to prison if she commits any other crime.
Jones, 43, who used to live in Mulberry Close, Taunton, told the court he would move to Leeds when he is released midway through his seven-year jail term in June next year.