Woman was distracted by children fighting in back seat at time of serious crash, court hears

Laura Bell and Edwin Stratton appeared at Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A woman who was distracted by her two children squabbling in the back of her car seriously injured another driver after veering into his vehicle, a court has heard.

Paffelona Jeyakumar, 46, of Keats Close in Downham Market, previously pleaded not guilty to the offence when she appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday, August 5 last year, but later pleaded guilty.

It comes after an incident on September 4, 2019, when the defendant was driving her two children back from school on the A1122 at Salters Lode, near Downham Market, when she veered into a Volvo travelling in the opposite direction.

It left the driver of the Volvo with two fractures to his pelvis, a fracture of his hip joint, a fracture to his lumbar vertebrae and a perforated bowel, which prosecutor Oliver Haswell said led the victim to contract sepsis.

The court heard how Jeyakumar, who was trying to control her two children as they fought over chips, also sustained injuries which left her in hospital for 18 days.

Jeyakumar admitted she was distracted, and the late plea was a result of "fear" that it could lead to criminal consequences for her children.

The defendant had driven the route for a number of years with no difficulties. She expressed remorse for the crash.

A victim personal impact statement read aloud shared how the crash had a "significant effect" on the victim's life. He was hospitalised for six weeks, had to cancel family holidays and his partner had to look after him.

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He has been unable to work and suffers with a limp.

Recorder Guy Ayers said: "[The victim] was travelling perfectly lawfully and reasonably, and yet because of your behaviour he ends up with serious injuries.

"It is most unfortunate you took so long to pleading guilty, you had the benefit of good legal advice who I'm sure would have made it clear to you had you raised the point that there was never any danger of your children falling foul of the criminal justice system because of their behaviour."

He sentenced her to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 21 months, alongside an order of 150 hours unpaid community work. 

Jeyakumar was also disqualified from driving for two years. A victim surcharge of £149 also was applied.

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