‘Blackouts’ woman caused fatal Sutton smash after being told not to drive

Mirror Online
Mirror Online

*Here’s a case from Birmingham Crown Court which received national coverage this weekend online in The Mirror, Mail Online and The Express, in print in the Daily Express and Daily Star and regional coverage in the Sutton Coldfield Observer and the Northampton Chronicle & Echo

A woman suffering blackouts and blurred vision went on to cause a fatal road smash just days after being ordered by doctors not to drive.

Stephanie Oakenfull, 28, was also found to be nearly twice the drink drive limit four hours after she smashed head on into another car killing Kay Smith, 53.

Oakenfull wept as she was jailed for six years at Birmingham Crown Court for causing death by dangerous driving and was banned from the roads for seven years.

She also admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident and driving without due care an attention.

It was heard she got behind the wheel of her Vauxhall Corsa on February 21 last year, days after being ordered not to drive by doctors.

She had also failed to tell the DVLA of a mystery condition which was causing her to suffer blackouts, blurred vision and memory loss.

Well loved Mrs Smith died of chest injuries following the smash near Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

Mail online screen grab
Mail Online

Judge Mark Wall QC told a sobbing Oakenfull, from Piddington, Northamptonshire; “You were aware and telling members of your family in the days leading up to this appalling driving you were suffering blurred vision and lapses in concentration.

“(You had) been told by a doctor you should not be driving and you should report it to the DVLA.

“You were well aware of the condition you were suffering and well aware you should not be driving that day.”

Birmingham Crown Court

Oakenfull had already been involved in one accident near her Northampton home on the day of the
fatal smash.

At around 4pm she clipped another driver’s wing mirror while speeding.

But after briefly stopping she told the other driver her girlfriend was a police officer and would sort it before driving away.

Two hours later she was seen swerving in her car on rural Ox Leys Road near Sutton Coldfield.

Travelling at around 60mph she forced one oncoming car to perform and emergency stop before clipping a kerb and veering into the path of a Renault Megane being driven by Mark Gillings.

He suffered fractures to his left leg which required surgery.

Back seat passenger Mrs Kay, a married mum, suffered fatal chest injuries and died a short time later in hospital.

Her daughter Emily escaped without serious injury.

Judge Wall went on; “They had no chance at all to avoid a collision.

“It became obvious you smelled of alcohol and there was a vodka bottle in the front of the car and a can of energy drink with added alcohol.

“It was no surprise, even four hours later, police were able to work out you were nearly twice the (drink drive) limit.”

A mobile phone connected to a charger was also found in the car.

And while it was not possible to say if Oakenfull was using it at the time of the smash, ANPR cameras has captured her using it as she drove around in the minutes and hours leading up to the crash.

image
Northampton Chronicle & Echo

Judge Wall added; “The first accident two hours before shows there was previous bad driving.

“That should have warned you of the quality of your driving and inability to drive that day.

“You blatantly disregarded that warning.”

Gareth Walters, prosecuting, said victim impact statements showed the loss caused by Mrs Smith’s death.

He told the court; “Her husband Terry Smith said his wife and life had been brutally taken away from him.”

Mrs Kay’s sister said the family’s life would never be the same again.

Mr Walters said; “She invites the defendant to consider the fact (Kay) would have wanted the defendant to turn things around and be of service to her family and to her community.”

John Hallissey, defending, said other than a period of turmoil in her late teens Oakenfull had left a good life and had been a hard worker.

He said; “She accepts she drove carelessly and dangerously on that occasion.

“It will be cold comfort that she is devastated by what she has done.”

He said his client had no recollection of the smash but said on the day she had drunk only a glass of wine.

She told police the vodka bottles were in her car from the previous night but she had not touched them.

“This was not deliberate dangerous driving.

“Her culpability is driving in the first place rather than making a conscious decision to drive dangerously.”

Following the smash, Mrs Kay’s family issued a tribute to her.

They said; “Kay was known for always for having a smile on her face.

“She loved to chat and people loved her.

“She was warm and friendly and always wore her heart on her sleeve. She will be deeply missed by her family.”

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