A woman who got behind the wheel after smoking cannabis and taking prescription medication has been jailed for over two years after she crashed into another vehicle, causing devastating injuries.
Although being told she could expect “approximately 18 months” imprisonment by Judge Adele Williams if she changed her plea to guilty, Sylvia Brown continued to deny the charges. Sole carer of her children, aged 14 and 16, she was jailed for two years and four months, banned from driving for four years and two months, and will have to take an extended test before being permitted back behind the wheel.
The court heard how on November 2, 2015, 53-year-old Brown fell asleep at the wheel and was on the wrong side of the road when she crashed into a Mini Cooper. The driver of the Mini, Amy Lawrence, suffered brain damage as a result of the collision, leaving her with disabilities and forcing her to leave her job as accounts administrator at Dulwich Preparatory School.
Daniel Stephensen, prosecuting, told the jury at Maidstone Crown Court that the manner of her driving was dangerous, and that a toxicology report showed traces of cannabis, codeine, and morphine.
“This evidence and the evidence of the defendant’s state when she was spoken to by paramedics and police demonstrate that she was under the influence of drugs when the collision occurred, and this was why she was driving in the way she was,” he added.
Miss Lawrence herself has no memory of the collision, but her colleague Tanya Davenport was driving behind her. She saw Brown’s car shoot diagonally over the road toward her colleague’s car at speed, shunting it off the road, onto the pavement, and into a hedge. Brown’s vehicle flipped onto its roof and skidded along the road before hitting Miss Davenport’s car.
The court heard further how Lawrence had enjoyed a full life, but could no longer drive or go horse riding. The brain injury had caused memory loss, she now struggled to converse normally and suffered mood swings.
“It is expected to take several years to improve her brain function and it is unlikely to fully recover,” said Mr Stephenson. “She is under the care of the brain injury clinic at King’s Hospital in London.”
She also has reduced movement and grip in her left hand following the collision which fractured several bones, requiring the insertion of plates and screws. She suffered swelling and bruising to one side of her head and now suffers from “lifelong” tinnitus and has problems maintaining her balance.
Judge Williams told Brown: “You caused life changing injuries. You should not have been driving at all. You were exhausted and stressed through a combination of drugs.
“That combination caused you to fall asleep at the wheel. There was a substantial risk of harm, which makes your position more serious.”
“It has changed a young woman’s life. Her brain injury will affect her long-term. She can no longer work. There is no proper remorse until today. Driving while unfit was grossly irresponsible.”
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