Widow's grief after ram-raider who killed her husband is jailed

The widow of a popular rugby player from Whittlesey has said she is 'serving a life sentence' after he was 'stolen' from his family by a ram raider.

Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 5:00 pm
Mark Collin

Mark Collin died when Dale Smith crashed a stolen Audi into his Nissan as Smith was speeding away from a botched ram raid in the early hours of August 1 last year.

Smith - who had taken a 'substantial amount of cocaine' just before the raid fled from the scene, and was labelled a 'coward' by Judge Matthew Lowe as he was jailed on Monday at Peterborough Crown Court.Mark, from Whittlesey - a night shift manager and father of two - was well known on the local rugby scene, having played for a number of clubs. He was a member of Peterborough Rugby Club when the tragic collision occurred.

Speaking after the sentence was heard, Mark's wife, Natalie, said: "He lived life to the full. There were no half measures.

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Dale Smith

"He loved rugby, and was a hard worker, but he really loved his family. When he wasn't at work he would be at home with his family."

Natalie said since Mark's death, the family had been given a lot of support - with more than 300 people turning up to his funeral.

She said: "We have been getting messages of support over the past nine months. Mark was very well thought of, and there were more than 300 people at his funeral.

"I also want to thank Cambridgeshire police for their support and the the investigation. I am happy someone has been held accountable."

During the sentencing hearing, a statement from Natalie was read in court.

In the statement, she said: "1 August 2017 - the most heart wrenching day of our lives - the day we lost a much loved husband, father, son, brother, friend and colleague.

“Mark was just one mile from home when he was stolen from us as a result of another person’s irresponsible actions.

“A road which we haven’t driven down since and go out of our way to avoid.

“The mental strain of losing the love of my life, my sons their father and the rock in his entire family.

“A constant roller coaster of emotions, have difficulty sleeping, weight loss, hair loss and stress that medical help was sought.

“His death has left a large crater in our hearts that can never be filled and he is missed immensely by us all, every minute of every day, we will never see, smell, talk, touch, kiss or hug him again.

“The days following is death (and still now) are both utterly full and completely empty - full of activity yet empty of life.

“The bitterness, anger and grief we feel everyday when we relive the moment we were told.

“Often recreating the circumstances of his death over and over.

“Why? How? Who to blame? Did he suffer/ Was he afraid? A vicious circle of questions with no answers.

“Its changed our way of looking at the world and those in it.

“My feelings of being incomplete - I have lost confidence is social settings without him. I am no longer one half of a couple. I am alone.

“The huge financial implications for our future - no salary coming in to support my income, no funds to support if needed for a family crisis.

“He will never get the chance to grow old. He will never see his sons achieve more in life, never see them married, or when they have children of their own. We have been robbed of our family’s future.

“He could always be depended on whether at work or at home, and would always lend a hand to whomever was in need. He was a hard worker and a true professional, with a strong will and character, he enjoyed life, he lived it to the full - never in half measures.

“This tragedy has changed all our lives and we are faced with a very different future without him - we will all be serving a life sentence.”

Speaking outside court PC Pete Bimson from Cambridgeshire police, said: “This was a tragic collision that arose out of Smith’s selfish actions and criminality. Smith and two others committed a burglary and whilst fleeing the scene, drove dangerously, resulting in the death of Mr Collin.

“I hope that today, after a complex investigation, Smith’s guilty plea will provide some comfort to the family and friends of Mr Collin.”