December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
An Ipswich hospital worker whose careless driving resulted in the death a 73-year-old Suffolk grandmother has walked free from court after being given a community order.
Pharmacy technician Alison Roberts had denied causing the death of Mary Dann, from Stradbroke, by driving without due care and attention on the B1078 Barking Road near Needham Market in July last year but was found guilty by a jury after a trial at Ipswich Crown Court last month. Sentence was adjourned until yesterday.
Mrs Dann and her husband John, 79, were driving home after visiting a friend at Barking Hall residential home when their car collided with an oncoming car driven by 52-year-old Roberts after she “partially” drove on to the wrong side of the road.
Mrs Dann, who was in the front passenger seat, suffered serious injuries and spent three weeks in intensive care before being discharged. She was re-admitted to hospital on October 9 and remained there until she died on December 29 as a result of a delayed consequence of her injuries.
Sentencing Roberts to 200 hours unpaid work in the community and banning her from driving for two years, Judge Rupert Overbury said the offence didn’t cross the custody threshold.
He told Roberts: “You are 99.9% of the time a model driver with no record of accidents or offences at all and for what could only have been a second or two your concentration failed you and this tragic collision followed.”
He said Roberts, of Lower Farm Road, Ringshall had expressed extreme remorse for what had happened.
He told Mrs Dann’s husband of 53 years, John, son Philip Dann and daughter Gillian Harvey, who were in court for the sentencing hearing: “I make it plain that no sentence I could ever pass would ever measure up to the worth of her (Mrs Dann’s) life or her memory.”
In addition to the community order Judge Overbury ordered Roberts to pay £2,000 prosecution costs but said that because of her “impeccable” driving record in the past he didn’t think it necessary to order her to take an extended retest at the end of her driving ban.
After last months’s trial members of Mrs Dann’s devastated family spoke of the loss of the “heart” of their family.
Philip Dann said his mother was a “young 73” and was “gentle and kind”.
“She was fit and active and had many years to live. She was still working as a cleaner and had a future to look forward to. She and my father had been on some fabulous holidays and had a very happy marriage and at a strike it was gone. She was the heart of our family and we are totally devastated by what has happened,” said Philip.
He said that while Roberts would be able to rebuild her life, their lives would never be the same again.
Mr Dann was airlifted to hospital with serious injures including fractures to his sternum, ankle and vertebrae in his back and had been left with on-going health problems. “If I wasn’t as fit as I was I wouldn’t have survived,” he said.
Giving evidence during the trial Mr Dann described seeing two cars and a lorry coming towards him and then being aware of a car pulling out from behind the lorry as if it was going to overtake.
Giving evidence Roberts denied pulling out to overtake the lorry.
She claimed she had been blinded by a deluge of water shortly before the fatal crash but wasn’t sure if it had come from a sudden downpour or had sprayed up from the road.
Matthew Gowen for Roberts said his client’s brother had died in a road crash and she understood the pain at losing a family member in that way.
“Her regret and her remorse for what happened that afternoon is absolute,” said Mr Gowen.