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Mother's plea over crash deaths
3:08am Monday 11th August 2014 in © Press Association 2014
A bereaved mother has pleaded with drivers to look after their vehicles after an inquest heard two young sisters died when the poorly-maintained car they were in came off the road.
Tamzin, 10, and Jessica Portor, seven, from Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, were killed in the crash on December 27, 2012.
The girls, described as "little angels" by their family, were on their way for a post-Christmas cinema trip at the time.
Their father's partner Marie Easter, 44, was driving when she swerved suddenly off the A47 at Walsoken, Norfolk, overturning into a ditch.
Today an inquest in King's Lynn heard that Easter's Ford Focus was poorly maintained with dangerously low tyre treads, uneven tyre pressures and a slow puncture.
It also heard evidence Jessica was not wearing a seatbelt.
Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a conclusion that the youngsters died of multiple injuries after the car overturned.
Outside, the girls' mother, Lorraine Mason, said: "I just want to make people aware that if you're driving a vehicle, you're responsible for it and everybody in it.
"Don't take somebody out without a seatbelt on, do check your tyres and if the tread or pressure is low, don't drive it.
"I don't want anybody to go through what I'm going through every day of my life."
Easter admitted two charges of causing death by careless driving at Norwich Crown Court earlier this year and was given a 15-month jail term, suspended for two years.
Giving evidence today, she insisted she had been forced to swerve to avoid an oncoming vehicle on the wrong side of the road.
"It was a red BMW with round lights, that's all I can remember," Easter added.
The car was never traced by police and w itnesses did not see any oncoming vehicle, the inquest heard.
The road was straight and wide enough to allow for overtaking.
Asked about the condition of the car, Easter said the vehicle had been repaired on December 19 and she had been told it was safe to drive.
However, mechanics told the hearing that although the car had been booked in for repair, the appointment was missed.
Collision investigator Sgt Andy Hood said the defects could have seriously affected the car's handling.
Mr Hood added: "It is possible the car lost traction and the driver was unable to regain control."
Allan Portor, the girls' father, was sitting in the front passenger seat.
He said he had not seen any oncoming car as he was checking messages on his phone but he believed Easter's account.
Mr Portor added: "She suddenly shouted out 'what the f-ing hell is he doing' and I looked up and she was swerving.
"There was nothing there but there was no time to look around.
"I trust her and if she says there was a car there, that's good enough for me.
"She loved those children like anything."
Both he and Easter said that the girls had been wearing seatbelts.
Mr Portor suffered broken ribs in the crash. His son, Liam, then 12, suffered cuts and bruises.
Easter was also injured in the crash.