A LAWYER fought back tears as she described the devastating impact caused to the family of "a beautiful, loving, compassionate" woman who died following a car crash.

Speeding driver Joel Wheeler was today (Friday) jailed for three years and four months for causing the death by dangerous driving of Katie Whyte, 34.

Wheeler, 36, of Grange Close, Cannington, received a further three two-year prison terms (concurrent) for causing serious injury to three other people in the tragic incident on the A39 near Greenway Garage, on Quantock Road, near Bridgwater, on February 17.

Taunton Crown Court heard that Katie, who left a husband and three-year-old son, suffered catastrophic injuries after Wheeler's Subaru Impreza ploughed into the Ford Ka she was a passenger in after he lost control while speeding.

She had been returning from a family pub meal with her parents, Gordon Williams and Julie Schroeder, when Wheeler hit the grass verge, lost control of his car and smashed into them as he unsuccessfully manoeuvred to correct it.

Katie was taken to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, where her life support machine was turned off three days later with her family at her bedside.

Mr Williams and Mrs Schroeder suffered life changing injuries in the crash, as did Wheeler's passenger, Stephen Russell.

Wheeler, who suffered minor cuts, initially falsely claimed his car skidded on a wet road, he was driving within the speed limit and his vehicle was faulty.

Rachel Drake, prosecuting, became emotional as she read a number of victim impact statements to the court.

Among them, Katie's brother, Billy, who rushed to the scene after a phone call, said he will never forget seeing his "beautiful, loving, caring and compassionate" sister "lying (in the road) helpless, begging for help, asking for something to stop the pain".

He added: "It breaks my heart every time I see my nephew. I've contemplated suicide on two occasions."

Katie's husband, Stewart, said: "Her beautiful boy, Hugo, still cries for mummy when he's upset or he's hurt himself.

"I'm her husband and I wasn't there to help her. The loneliness I feel hasn't gone away."

Mr Williams said: "I held my little girl's hand as she passed away. It's every parent's nightmare."

Mrs Schroeder said: "Every morning I wake up...I go to my photos and look at my beautiful Katie.

"When I go to bed, I look at my photos and ask God to take me tonight so I can be with Katie."

Patrick Mason, defending, said Wheeler was not speeding excessively and is remorseful at what he's done to other people.

Sentencing Wheeler, Judge David Ticehurst said: "Nothing I can say can undo the hurt, the harm and damage you caused."

But he added: "I query what benefit is derived either to you or indeed to those affected by this dreadful accident by imposing an immediate sentence of imprisonment.

"But I'm acutely aware of my public duty. I simply question the benefits that would arise from such a sentence."