A JUDGE branded a driver's overtaking as "sheer stupidity" after it led to a woman's death and serious injures of two others.

Paul Shadbolt, aged 30, of Fawkham Close, Fawkham, was jailed today for two years for causing death by careless driving after the incident on the A2 at Pepperhill Junction in Gravesend on June 2 last year.

Jeanette Shaw, 73, was killed after the car she waS travelling in with two friends, Christine Driver and Valerie Gauci, was hit by Shadbolt's.

The court heard how he was driving with his girlfriend Niamh Morrow to research Sainsbury's stores where she could relocate as part of her role as the company's HR manager.

There was some debate as to whether Shadbolt, who had only passed his driving test around two months before, had crossed the chevrons after overtaking another driver, Graham Barnard, and turning off on to the slip road.

Mr Barnard told the court: "I am very familiar with this route.

"I knew it then and I know it now, he did cross the chevrons."

However Shadbolt denies doing this as does Miss Morrow, now his fiancée.

She said: "He did not cross them.

"The overtaking manoeuvre was not uncomfortable.

"It was only when we crossed on to the grassy verge after turning in to the slip road that it was uncomfortable and I closed my eyes."

Shadbolt had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving on January 24.

Judge Martin Joy had ordered a Newton hearing prior to the sentencing.

He told the defendant: "What you did can only be described as just falling short of dangerous driving.

"It was very, very bad driving and you put others at risk with tragic consequences. It was sheer stupidity."

However one of Shadbolt's victims spoke out against the sentence which included two years imprisonment.

Mrs Ryan, 63, was driving the car which was hit and suffered serious injuries including 12 fractured ribs and a broken collarbone.

She told News Shopper after the sentencing: "It is just not going to serve any purpose. I said in my victim impact statement that I wanted the sentence to be lenient.

"His girlfriend is on her own now."

Shadbolt was also disqualified from from driving for two years - after which he must sit the extended test.