Woman jailed for killing Blackwood grandmother by driving 'wrong way around mini roundabout'

Charlotte Symons was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. Credit: Media Wales

A driver killed a grandmother when she cut the corner at a mini roundabout, knocking her down as she crossed the road, a court has heard.

Charlotte Symons said she did not see pedestrian Sandra Chamberlain in the carriageway as she turned right at the junction rather than driving around the mini-roundabout.Mrs Chamberlain - a well-known figure in the local community - was knocked down and driven over by Symons and her Nissan Navara as she went to post Christmas cards and do some shopping.

She suffered catastrophic brain injuries from which she did not recover.

Mrs Chamberlain's daughter described her mother as her "everything", and said while the family knew the defendant had not set out to hurt anyone that day all drivers have a responsibility to others when they get behind the wheel.

The fatal collision happened at just after 11:15am on 9 December 2022, in Markham near Blackwood.

The court heard that rather than staying in the left hand lane and going clockwise around the mini roundabout to take the exit to the right the defendant instead turned sharp right, cut the corner, and effectively went the wrong way around the mini roundabout.

As she did so she knocked down and drove over her victim who had almost finished crossing the road.

The prosecutor said Symons stopped at the scene and went to help the stricken pedestrian, and could be heard saying: "I didn't see her, I didn't see her".

Mrs Chamberlain was rushed to hospital but could not be saved and died on 17 December.

Tributes left for Sandra Chamberlain read 'the village has lost it's queen'. Credit: Media Wales

A subsequent post mortem showed she had suffered blunt impact injuries to the head which caused traumatic brain injury.

In a statement read to the court, Mrs Chamberlain's daughter set out the devastating impact her death has had on her and on her family.

She said her mum had been the love of her dad's life since the age of 18, but now the seat next to him on the sofa was empty.

She described her as a big part of the local community, mentioning one of the floral tributes that had been left which simply read: "The village has lost its queen".

James Findon, for Symons, said his client was devastated about what happened, and would turn the clock back if she could.

He said the incident had been born "purely out of habit" and "familiarity" with the junction, and that it had not been a deliberate decision on the part of the defendant.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told Symons that if she had driven the correct way around the mini roundabout she would not have hit and killed Mrs Chamberlain, and said anyone viewing the available CCTV footage wound not understand how the defendant had not seen the pedestrian, even when she was immediately in front of her vehicle.

She said the collision had caused Mrs Chamberlain's family "profound and terrible grief" and said no sentence a court could impose would ease the suffering or measure the worth of a life.

With a one-third discount for her guilty plea, Symons was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. She will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

The defendant was disqualified from driving for seven years, and the ban was extended by an additional two years and four months to allow for the time she will be in prison.

Speaking after the sentencing, Gwent Police sergeant Shane Draper, serious collision investigation manager with the force, said: "This is a tragic case that has resulted in the needless loss of a life.

"There can be no excuses for driving dangerously. It can have devastating impact on other innocent road users, as shown in this case.

"This is a reminder to everyone who gets behind the wheel - your responsibility isn’t just to ensure your own safety, but the safety of everyone around you."

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