Family's anger at sentencing of driver who killed 'kind and caring' nan
- Credit: Picture submitted by Waterman family.
The devastated family of a woman killed in a Norfolk crash have urged people to ensure they are mentally and physically well enough to get behind the wheel as they spoke of their disappointment at his sentence.
Dawn Waterman died following a crash on the A143 near Brockdish.
The 75-year-old had just celebrated her birthday with family at a holiday park in Belton and was being driven back to Essex by her daughter Kelly in a Vauxhall Corsa when the crash happened.
Norwich Crown Court heard Lee Garcia, 42, had been driving his partner and three children to the Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth when their Ford C-Max crashed into the Vauxhall Corsa.
David Wilson, prosecuting, said the crash happened on a left-hand bend when Garcia “drifted across the road into the oncoming lane of traffic”.
Mr Wilson said Kelly Waterman saw the vehicle coming towards her and was only able to say “Oh my God” to her mother “in fear of the oncoming collision” before impact.
He said the crash, which happened at about 3.45pm on October 20 2019, had tragic consequences with Dawn, a front seat passenger, being fatally injured and Kelly suffering serious internal injuries.
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When interviewed by police Garcia said he “couldn’t remember what happened”.
He said he did not feel tired as he was driving but recalled his partner “shouting at him” before he woke up slumped in the car.
Mr Wilson said a police investigation found the cause of the crash was unknown although the most likely reason was “he succumbed to tiredness” or was distracted causing him to lose concentration.
The court was told by Mr Wilson it had been “more than momentary inattention”.
Garcia, from Romford, appeared in court for sentence on Friday (October 15) having previously admitted causing death by careless driving.
Before Garcia was sentenced, the court heard an impact statement from Kelly Waterman who described her mum, a retired factory worker, as “amazing”.
She said she was “kind, caring and considerate” and was a “huge” Elvis fan who was “over the moon” to have been able to visit Graceland.
Kelly said: “Losing mum has impacted us all in so many different ways.
"You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone - she’s missed so much every day”.
She added that they were “very angry that someone’s negligent actions had taken her away from us too soon”.
Kelly said her niece felt “very sad and angry at what this stupid man did” adding that “he took her life away and she didn’t deserve to die”.
Oliver Haswell, mitigating, said Garcia was genuinely remorseful.
He said he had no concerns he was unfit or unable to drive with the most likely cause of the crash was a loss of consciousness but happened without warning.
Mr Haswell said there had not been a prolonged piece of bad driving.
He said Garcia was tormented by not knowing what went wrong and what caused the collision.
Judge Anthony Bate described Dawn Waterman as a "well loved nan, mum and auntie"
He said it was a tragic case and insisted no sentence could “recompense for the loss her family now has to endure”.
But he also took into consideration the remorse of the defendant which he described as “deep, profound and genuine”.
Garcia was made the subject of an 18 month community order, ordered to do 240 hours unpaid work and made the subject of a six month curfew from 8pm to 6am.
He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.
A statement from the family issued following the case, said they were “disappointed” with the sentence handed out and “don’t feel justice has been done”.
But they said they respected the criminal justice system but now want to “regroup as a family”.
They also urged others to ensure they were “physically and mentally well enough to get in a vehicle and drive” as they did not want others to go through the “stress and grief” they have.
The family also thanked those who stopped at the scene as well as the emergency services for their help following the fatal crash.