Schoolgirl and young woman suffered life-changing injuries when car pulled out in front of speeding lorry - The Rugby Observer

Schoolgirl and young woman suffered life-changing injuries when car pulled out in front of speeding lorry

Rugby Editorial 20th Jun, 2019   0

A SCHOOLGIRL and a young woman suffered life-changing injuries when the car they were in pulled out onto a main road into the path of a speeding lorry.

And on the day of her trial at Warwick Crown Court, car driver Sheila Williams finally accepted that her action in pulling out was the primary cause of the devastating collision.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving following the crash at the junction of Rugby Road and the A5 Watling Street near Catthorpe.

Williams, 56, of Malvern Avenue, Rugby, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and to pay £1,200 costs, and was banned from driving for three years.




Prosecutor Sharon Bahia said that on October 28, 2017, Williams was giving a friend a lift from near Catthorpe to Rugby in her Nissan Micra, with that friend’s daughter and an 11-year-old girl in the back of the car.

As they approached the junction of Rugby Road and the A5, there was a silver-coloured Jeep or SUV waiting to make a right turn.


Frustrated at the time it was taking that driver to pull out, Williams undercut it to turn left onto the main road and “entered the carriageway without looking or, if she did look, she didn’t look sufficiently well to see an HGV.”

Miss Bahia said the lorry driver described the Micra pulling out into his path without hesitating – and the victims in the back of the car both suffered severe injuries in the collision.

The court heard that the lorry was doing 12mph more than its permitted speed of 50mph, and would have been able to stop in time if it had been doing 50.

But it was accepted that Williams’s action in pulling out when it was not safe to do so was the primary cause.

Her friend’s daughter’s injuries included fractures to her spine, ribs, shoulder and jaw, lacerations to her liver and a kidney, a tear to her spleen, and chest injuries which continue to cause respiratory problems.

She told the court she had to have a tracheotomy, and then had a four-inch length of her airway removed, after which the build-up of scar tissue meant she has had to undergo a succession of operations to have stents fitted to keep the airway open.

The 11-year-old girl suffered head injuries which have affected her cognitive functions, as well as spinal fractures and internal injuries, and she still has to use a wheelchair to go long distances.

Nicholas Syfret QC, defending, said: “There was a contribution to the cause of the accident from the driver of the lorry… (who) was driving at 62mph… 12mph over the limit.

“Had that other vehicle been driving at the speed limit, then… the lorry could have been brought to a halt.”

But Judge Peter Cooke remarked: “I attach little weight to that. She is still saying she just didn’t see the lorry, not that she misjudged its distance.”

Sentencing Williams, the judge said she had felt ‘perhaps understandable’ irritation at the dithering of the Jeep driver, but that what it led her to do has had ‘frightful consequences.’

““Whether she didn’t look at all, or whether she looked in the most cursory fashion, we will never know – but what was there was plainly to be seen, an HGV lorry bearing down on her.

“It was going rather faster than a lorry should have been, but not any faster than a car or a motorbike would have been entitled to. There is no excuse for failing to see it.

“This was a gross lapse from the standards of care required when we venture out onto the public roads.”

Of the older victim’s ongoing respiratory issues, Judge Cooke – who also praised the ‘stoical’ younger girl – said: “She is struggling with admirable courage to deal with the hand life has dealt her.”

But he added: “Although Sheila Williams was the driver and the author of everyone’s misfortunes, she is, let us not forget, a thoroughly decent person.

“The very last thing on her mind was that any of them would not return home safely that day. She has been haunted by recurring thoughts of what she did and its consequences.”

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