Stradbroke/Needham Market: Woman found guilty of causing death by careless driving

John and Mary Dann. Mrs Dann died following a road accident on July 19 last year

John and Mary Dann. Mrs Dann died following a road accident on July 19 last year

An Ipswich hospital worker whose careless driving resulted in the death a 73-year-old Suffolk grandmother has been told by a judge she won’t be jailed when she is sentenced next month.

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 two-day trial at Ipswich Crown Court.

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.

“The cause of her death was a delayed consequence of injuries sustained during the road traffic accident five months earlier,” said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.

After they jury’s verdict Judge Rupert Overbury adjourned sentence until October 15 for a pre-sentence report and made an interim driving ban.

He told Roberts, of Lower Farm Road, Ringshall, the offence she had been convicted of did not cross the custody threshold and the likely sentence would be a community penalty.

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After yesterday’s verdict members of Mrs Dann’s devastated family spoke of the loss of the “heart” of their family.

Mrs Dann’s husband of 53 years, John, son Philip Dann, daughter Gillian Harvey and brother Martyn Norris said she 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.

He said that after the accident his mother had a cardiac arrest and was given 23 pints of blood. She underwent three emergency operations and spent the months before her death in hospital or in a care home “fighting to stay alive”.

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.