The distraught family of a former Hollyoaks actress who was fatally struck on a motorway while 17 weeks pregnant have today shared their heartbreak as her killer was jailed for just 12 years.
Frankie Jules-Hough, 38, had pulled over on the hard shoulder with a tyre puncture, with her two sons and nephew in the vehicle, when her car was struck by Adil Iqbal, 22, at 92mph.
Iqbal was driving with one hand and holding his phone with the other as he filmed himself weaving through motorway traffic at speeds of up to 123mph on the M66 in Bury, Greater Manchester, on May 13.
Ms Jules-Hough, who was 17 weeks pregnant with her first daughter, Neeve, suffered fatal brain injuries. She and her unborn daughter died two days later in hospital surrounded by her family, having not regained consciousness.
Her partner, Calvin Buckley, said in court: ‘My past, present and future has been crushed and taken from me.
‘And for what? An adrenaline rush, an ego boost, a false sense of worth, and selfish gratification with no regards for the safety of others. An unnecessarily dangerous risk taking mentality that needs to change. For what? Was it worth it? The answer is no, it is not.’
Frankie Jules-Hough, pictured with her partner Calvin Buckley, suffered fatal brain injuries in the horror crash
Iqbal’s BMW 140i undertook a motorbike then swerved and hit a crash barrier before spinning around and ploughing into Ms Jules-Hough’s Skoda Fabia at an estimated 92mph. He is pictured with a different vehicle
He added: ‘I want this tragedy to have a positive impact and deter others from reckless driving.’
Ms Jules-Hough appeared on Hollyoaks as Jess Holt between 2000 and 2001, and had roles in Merseybeat, Heartbeat, Where The Heart Is and Wire In The Blood, before becoming a Reiki practitioner.
A lawyer representing her family has condemned Iqbal’s sentence – which could have received a maximum of life imprisonment – saying it is too lenient.
In an emotional statement in court, Ms Jules-Hough’s father described his eldest daughter as being his ‘hero’. ‘When you received a smile from Frankie, it warmed your heart and made you feel safe,’ he said.
‘I spent over two days without sleep, holding Frankie’s hand and begging her to come back, all the time knowing that this wasn’t going to happen. Frankie passed with the love of her whole family surrounding her in her bed.
‘I promised Frankie that I would always protect her, and on that day, someone else broke my promise. I don’t think I can ever forgive him for that, but I know I will never truly forgive myself.
‘Even though rationally I know I couldn’t have prevented what happened, it will never feel that way to me.’ He added: ‘I am trapped in a very long tunnel, and I can’t see any light at the end.’
Mr Hough said on the day of the crash, he was at a supercar day with his partner. He said: ‘This is how reasonable, thoughtful and caring people get their thrills driving fast cars, in a safe and controlled environment, not putting countless lives at risk on the motorways.
Iqbal, 22, was been jailed for 12 years at Minshull Street Crown Court
Frankie Jules-Hough appeared on the soap Hollyoaks as Jess Holt from 2000 to 2001
Iqbal, from Accrington, Lancashire, who was driving a BMW, was arrested at the scene (pictured outside Manchester Crown Court in June)
‘I pray that an example is set, if only for the cause of deterring other young men from being in the position that Mr Iqbal, myself, my family and even Mr Iqbal’s family find ourselves in today.’
Following the crash, Ms Jules-Hough’s nine-year-old son, Thomas Spencer, and nephew Tobias Welby were left in a coma with serious brain injuries.
Both boys spent weeks in intensive care in hospital and their long-term outcomes remain uncertain, the court heard.
Ms Jules-Hough was on the phone to Thomas’ father while pulled up on the hard shoulder, explaining she would be late when she let out a ‘blood-curdling scream’, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
Mr Spencer, along with other family members, dashed to the scene of the car wreck as emergency services and air ambulances arrived.
Dashcam footage, as well as the footage from Iqbal’s phone, was shown to the court, watched by relatives of Ms Jules-Hough, some of whom gave heart-rending victim impact statements before the defendant was jailed.
Adil Iqbal, 22, was driving with one hand and holding his phone with the other to film himself, possibly to upload to Facebook, as he tailgated and undertook other vehicles and swerved across lanes, reaching a speed of 123mph in his father’s BMW. Pictured: A clip from the video
Emergency services attend the scene of the crash which closed the M66 in May
Ms Jules-Hough’s family has blasted Iqbals sentence as being too soft
The crash took place at 3.10pm on May 13, Greater Manchester Police said
An air ambulance took Ms Jules-Hough to hospital for treatment, but she did not regain consciousness
Iqbal admitted two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and one count of causing death by dangerous driving of Ms Jules-Hough.
Following the crash, Iqbal was able to climb out of the passenger seat window of the BMW.
Prosecutor Rob Hall said: ‘He was being evasive, trying to make out that he’d done nothing wrong.’
He tried to blame his driving on an issue with his rear wheel drive car, but the vehicle was found to have no defects. Iqbal was arrested and replied ‘no comment’ to questions asked by officers.
He refused to tell police his phone PIN code, but they later cracked the device and discovered the video Iqbal had taken of himself before the crash.
Ms Jules-Hough died 36 hours after the crash, and her unborn daughter had a heartbeat but was ‘too young to survive’, the court heard.
Passing sentence, Judge Maurice Greene told Iqbal: ‘She was killed as a result of the most indescribable reckless driving by you, Adil Iqbal, leading to the devastation of a family.’
Adil Iqbal has been jailed for 12 years for the shocking incident
Solicitors Rose Gibson (left) and Polly Herbert (right), read a statement outside Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, after Adil Iqbal was jailed for 12 years
Relatives of Ms Hough (pictured) launched a fundraiser to support her family, saying their lives had been ‘truly turned upside down’
Rose Gibson-Harper, the lawyer representing the victim’s family, criticised the judge’s decision in a statement on Wednesday.
She said: ‘Today’s 12-year sentence is insulting and an injustice to the catastrophic injuries little Tobias sustained, and the life sentence Ms Hough’s family were needlessly handed following her and her unborn daughter’s death due to an act of sheer stupidity.
‘Last year, judges were given the power to hand down greater sentences to those convicted of death by dangerous driving – previously, the maximum tariff was 14 years but it was increased to life imprisonment.
‘This case stands as one of the worst examples of dangerous driving I have witnessed in my 27-year career as a catastrophic injury lawyer, and we expected the justice system to fulfil its duty and utilise its new-found powers.’
Defending, Balbir Singh said of Iqbal, who has worked as a volunteer boxing trainer: ‘He feels full responsibility for the accident and its consequences that day.
‘We have seen clear evidence now that he does express deep regret and remorse at having driven in the manner that he did and for the consequences that have arisen. They have had a profound impact on him, minor in comparison.
Frankie Jules-Hough’s (pictured) family paid a heartfelt tribute to her, describing her as a ‘shining light’
Former co-star Paul Danan has paid tribute to her, saying he was ‘truly devastated’ after hearing the news
Paul shared a photo of himself and Ms Jules-Hough on the set of Hollyoaks in the early 2000s
‘He knows he must live with this for the rest of his life.’
Hollyoaks actor Paul Danan, who played Sol Patrick between 1997 and 2001, previously paid tribute to his ‘beautiful and talented’ former co-star.
Mr Danan told followers how ‘truly devastated’ he was after hearing the tragic news.
‘I just heard the most shocking upsetting news I’ve heard in such a long time,’ he wrote in an Instagram post.
‘Another good good friend who was such a special person has sadly passed away while carrying her unborn baby and her two little boys and nephew who were in the car too. They had a terrible car accident.
‘This wonderful actress played the character ‘Jess’ alongside me for nearly 4 years in @hollyoaksofficial her real name is Frankie Hough and I adored her. I feel so lost right now. #RIPFranki.’