Cambridgeshire wheelchair crash death driver sentenced

Chris ClementsImage source, Family Handout
Image caption,
The impact of the crash left Mr Clements with a traumatic brain injury and he later died

A woman who took a "totally unnecessary risk" by driving while her windscreen was dirty and killed her wheelchair-using cousin has been sentenced.

Hayley Sterna, 51, crashed her car into Chris Clements' wheelchair while he was out with his dog on 4 January 2017.

Sterna, of Braefield, Somersham, admitted causing death by careless driving at Cambridge Crown Court.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years. Sterna was also given a two-year driving ban.

Judge David Farrell QC said she had taken "a totally unnecessary risk to continue driving when her vision was severely restricted".

The court was previously told Mr Clements, of Brinkley, was on the B1052 near Burrough Green in Cambridgeshire at a point without a footpath, meaning his wheelchair was in the road.

He wore a high visibility jacket and had high visibility markings on his wheelchair but was struck from behind by Sterna's Peugeot Partner vehicle at about 14:30 GMT, the court heard.

Image source, Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption,
The court heard Hayley Sterna was "dazzled" by the sun when she crashed into her cousin

The jury was told her vision was "obscured" by dirt on her windscreen and she had had two opportunities to fill her washer fluid but not taken them.

In mitigation, Sterna's barrister Mark Shelley said she had stayed and held Mr Clements' hand after the crash, adding: "Her remorse is as clear as day... she will never get over this."

An impact statement by Mr Clements' mother Sue Cogger read out in court said her life was now "one of grief and despair".

She said she had been forced to take early retirement, her daughter's life had been "destroyed by the trauma of losing Chris", while her younger son has "turned into a virtual recluse".

Mr Clements, a father of three, became quadriplegic in 2006 after an accident in a garden.

His stepfather David Cogger paid tribute to his "remarkable fortitude" and to a man who would "always give of his time" to help others.

Judge Farrell QC said he took into account Sterna's previous good character, early guilty plea and previous good driving record.

She was also disqualified from driving for two years, must take an extended driving test to get her licence back and complete 200 hours of community service.

Image source, Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption,
Sterna's barrister Mark Shelley said she "will never get over" the fatal crash

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