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Driving instructor’s daughter who killed her sister in South Woodford spared jail

PUBLISHED: 16:02 22 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:21 22 June 2018

Sisters Meliha Kaya, 19 and Elif Kaya, 16, from Woodford Green. Picture: Demet Kaya

Sisters Meliha Kaya, 19 and Elif Kaya, 16, from Woodford Green. Picture: Demet Kaya

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The daughter of a Woodford Green driving instructor who killed her sister in a horrific crash in South Woodford has been spared jail after a judge said no sentence could punish her more than her loss.

Elif Kaya, 16, was killed in the crashElif Kaya, 16, was killed in the crash

Meliha Kaya, 22, was “far in excess of the speed” as she drove her sister, Elif, 16, and a friend, Ayla Osman, back from the George pub in Wanstead on February 13, 2016, the Old Bailey heard.

Her Mini swerved to the wrong side of the road and collided with a BMW during the 10-minute journey back to her house .

The car left the ground in Chigwell Road, went over a low wall and hit a tree. All the occupants of the Mini were badly injured and Elif was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 16-year-old, who was the only passenger to wear a seat belt, usually sat in the back of the car, but had begged her sister to be allowed to ride in the front seat on this occasion, prosecutor Julian Evans said.

Floral tributes lie at the scene of a car crash on Chigwell Road which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old teen. Picture: Ken MearsFloral tributes lie at the scene of a car crash on Chigwell Road which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old teen. Picture: Ken Mears

Experts predicted the car was travelling anywhere between 40 and 70 miles per hour in a 30mph zone when the crash – which was out of character for the normally careful and considerate driver – happened. 
Meliha was in a coma for 11 days and stayed in intensive care for a period before being discharged from hospital in March.

She had no relocation of the accident and her parents had to break the awful news that her sister had died and a funeral had already taken place.

Since the accident, Meliha has suffered with nightmares, bouts of crying and post-traumatic stress, as well as life-changing physical injuries from the accident, defending counsel Ms Young said.

She has also battled suicidal thoughts and wants to be reunited with her sister who she was extremely close to.

Criminology student Meliha Kaya, 22, outside the Old Bailey in London. Photo: John Stillwell/PA WireCriminology student Meliha Kaya, 22, outside the Old Bailey in London. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

“She has spent the last two years tortured by knowing that she has caused her own sister’s death,” she said.

“They were best friends as well as sisters.

“They shared the same friends and interests, they would go out together and there was an incredibly strong bond between them.

“They felt they didn’t need anyone else but each other. Two young girls with real promise - all of that changed in an instance.”

Sisters Meliha Kaya, at the time, 19, right, and Elif Kaya, 16, left, with mum Demet Kaya, centreSisters Meliha Kaya, at the time, 19, right, and Elif Kaya, 16, left, with mum Demet Kaya, centre

Meliha’s parents, Nevzat Kaya and Demet Duzel, pleaded with the judge to be as lenient as possible and said they did not blame their eldest daughter for Elif’s death, calling it a tragic accident.

“As the parents of Elif and as the parents of Meliha we ask the judge to give her the lightest possible sentence to encourage her to rebuild her own life,” they said in a witness statement.

Youngest sibling Eda, 17, asked the judge not to send her sister to prison and said “Without her, I’m completely alone”.

Judge Wendy Joseph QC said no sentence could ever punish Meliha as much as her grief and guilt would.

Elif Kaya, 16, from Woodford GreenElif Kaya, 16, from Woodford Green

“This defendant killed her sister and nothing she can ever do will repair that loss to herself and her family.

“I hope that she will do what she can to lead the sort of life her sister will have wished she would have been able to achieve, for both of them.

“I accept the grief she has been suffering is incalculable. No sentence I can impose can punish her as much as this.”

Meliha was given suspended sentences of two years for causing death by dangerous driving and 12 months for causing serious injury. Both are suspended for 12 months.

She is also disqualified from driving for four years and would have to take an extended driving test if she wanted to drive a vehicle again.

Jordash Graham, 24, of Leytonstone, was also sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, June 22 in relation to the accident.

He was following Meliha back to her house after meeting the girls at the George.

He was also speeding and subsequently crashed into the side of the BMW but was uninjured.

He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for nine months, and has been disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Judge Joseph hit out at the length of time it took for the case to be brought to the Old Bailey. 
Despite the incident taking place in 2016, the defendants were only told they would face charges in October 2017.

“It is right to say that their grief is unassuageable and so is their anger in the way in which this has been dealt and I have some sympathy with that.

“I want a full explanation for how this matter could take as long as it did.”

She ordered a written explanation to be given to her within two weeks.

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