Two motorists have been found guilty of causing the death of a young Derbyshire mum by careless driving.
Abbie Chambers suffered fatal injuries when the motorbike she was a passenger on was involved in an accident on the A610 near Ikea in February last year.
She was just 21 and left behind her daughters Elouise, now four, and Eva, now three.
Motorcyclist Timothy Sandars, 20, of Morley Road, Chaddesden, and car driver Emma Fogg, 21, of Priory Road, Ilkeston, both denied causing death by careless driving but a jury returned guilty verdicts on each of the defendants.
Nottingham Crown Court previously heard that Fogg had pulled out in front of Kyle Trelfall’s motorbike, which Abbie, of Heanor, was passenger on, without checking whether it was safe to do so and without indicating. Mr Trelfall applied his brakes and swerved around the car but was hit by Sandars’ bike which, the prosecution said, was going too fast.
After the guilty verdict, Judge Jeremy Lea said: “There are no winners in a case like this.”
And speaking after the trial, Abbie’s mum Sandra Chambers said her granddaughters believe their mum has gone to be a star in the sky.
Ms Chambers, who has now become the guardian of Elouise and Eva, sat through the trial.
The 49-year-old, also of Heanor, said: “I told the children that mummy has gone to be a star and they are quite accepting of that. They are really doing well.
“At the beginning, they would look out at the bedroom at night and say that’s mummy up there. But they don’t feel the need to do that anymore. Although on bonfire night Eva pointed up to a star and said ‘that’s mummy’.
“The little ones give me comfort. Perhaps if the children weren’t there I might think I cannot get out of bed each morning but they give me the purpose to go on. Sometimes when they do something unexpected or say something I’ve never heard them say before, and it makes me smile, I feel sad as I think ‘Abbie should have been here to hear that’. Eva now talks like a little chatterbox, Abbie would have loved to hear her.
“Also, she’s missed the first day of nursery and the first day of school. It’s very sad.
“But you cannot grieve when you’ve got the children there because you daren’t break down in front of them. There’s been a few times that I have had a wobble and Elouise has said ‘are you crying because you’re sad about mummy?’, and then she’s said ‘it’s alright to cry’, because that’s what I say to her.”
And speaking of the trial, she added: “I always said that I needed to be there every day because you have got all these jigsaw pieces that aren’t quite fitting into place, however much the police talk to you. But I feel more at ease now and have the picture, in my head, clearer.
“I have been through stages in the past – probably more early on – where I was angry, but I’m not angry now. Initially you want someone to blame but when you think about it logically, they didn’t set out that day to do what they did.
“It’s just one of those things – she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
But she said she was pleased with the verdict and felt like “justice had been served”.
“It doesn’t bring Abbie back but at least it’s been recognised that they did wrong. And it brings some closure.”
Ms Chambers had received a text from Abbie, a few hours before the accident, asking her what she was doing. She had not replied at the time to the text and has since thought many times that if she had, then Abbie would have told her that she was going out on a motorbike and she would have told her not to go.
“But I don’t think she would have changed her mind because she was very headstrong,” added Ms Chambers.
“It’s just one of those things. But you cannot turn the clock back, unfortunately.”
Abbie left Heanor Gate Science College when she was 15 and started a hairdressing course at South East Derbyshire College, in Ilkeston.
But within weeks of starting the course she fell pregnant with Elouise and was very ill and so had to give up her course. At the time she was living with her mum in Heanor.
“She did really well as a mum,” said Ms Chambers. “Never once did I have to get up in the middle of the night. She coped really well. I was impressed. She loved being a mum.
“After leaving school she really blossomed into a beautiful, young woman. She took everybody’s problems and had to solve them. If any of her friends had a crisis she would always be on the phone having to sort it out. She had a lot of friends and was always out with someone.”
Ms Chambers said sometimes after Abbie’s death she would see a slightly-built girl in black leggings and would have to look twice, thinking it was her daughter.
“She was very bubbly, quite extrovert and never short of conversation. She was cheeky and always had an opinion on something.”
Ms Chambers said that Abbie’s friend Ruby now played a big part in the girls’ lives and she looked after them regularly.
“She cannot do enough,” said Ms Chambers, who works full-time as a support worker for people with mental health problems. “She’s a massive help. I don’t know how I would have coped without her, to be honest.”
Abbie, who worked as a care assistant for Long Eaton-based Harmony Care and Support, had turned 21 six months before she died. To celebrate her birthday, she hired a hot tub and marquee to be installed in her garden for a few days. She had transformed the garden into a tropical paradise, with blow up pineapple trees and fairy lights and then invited friends and family over.
“We sat in the hot tub and drank cocktails – It was really good,” said Ms Chambers.
Last year in August, family and friends let off helium balloons in Shipley Park to mark Abbie’s 22nd birthday.
Ms Chambers said that with the trial over she hoped she would now be able to look forward a bit more.
“We have been in limbo all this time, just waiting,” she said.
Fogg and Sandars are due to be sentenced on February 18.