Published: 08:40, 14 August 2017
A mother of two who caused devastating injuries when she crashed into another driver after smoking cannabis and taking prescription drugs has been jailed for two years and four months.
Sylvia Brown, of Angley Road, Cranbrook, had denied causing serious injury by dangerous driving but changed her plea to guilty after giving evidence.
Before the trial started her lawyer asked for an indication of the likely sentence if a guilty plea was entered - and told “approximately 18 months imprisonment” by Judge Adele Williams.
But Brown, the sole carer for her children aged 16 and 14, continued to deny the offence.
She was banned for four years and two months and will have to take an extended test before being allowed to drive again.
Brown, 53, had fallen asleep at the wheel and was on the wrong side of the road when she smashed into Amy Lawrence’s white convertible Mini Cooper.
The victim suffered brain damage which has left her with disabilities and unable to return to her job as an accounts administrator at private Dulwich Preparatory School in Coursehorn, Cranbrook.
The crash happened on the A229 Hartley Road between Hawkhurst and Cranbrook on November 2, 2015.
Prosecutor Daniel Stephenson told a jury at Maidstone Crown Court that the manner of Brown’s driving was dangerous.
Furthermore, he said, toxicology tests on a blood sample showed traces of cannabis and codeine and morphine.
“This evidence and the evidence of the defendant’s state when she was spoken to by paramedics and police demonstrate that she was under the influence of drugs when the collision occurred, and this was why she was driving in the way she was,” added Mr Stephenson.
"You caused life changing injuries. You should not have been driving at all. You were exhausted and stressed through a combination of drugs" - Judge Adele Williams, to Brown
Miss Lawrence, 23, was on her way home from work just after 5pm. She drove along Swattenden Lane before turning left into Hartley Road towards Hawkhurst.
Brown was in her black Honda CR-V driving along Hartley Road towards Cranbrook.
Because of her brain injury Miss Lawrence had no memory of the collision. The last thing she recalled was turning onto Hartley Road.
Driving behind her in her Ford Mondeo was work colleague Tanya Davenport. She saw Brown’s car shoot diagonally across the road over the painted chevrons towards Miss Lawrence’s car at speed.
The Mini was shunted off the road onto the pavement and into a hedge. Brown’s Honda flipped onto its roof and skidded along the road, hitting Miss Davenport’s car before stopping.
Miss Davenport rushed over to unconscious Miss Lawrence. When she came round moaning in pain she did not remember leaving work or where she was going.
She had previously lived a full life but could no longer drive or go horse riding, the court heard.
Her brain injury had caused memory loss, she had trouble conversing and suffered mood swings.
“It is expected to take several years to improve her brain function and it is unlikely to fully recover,” said Mr Stephenson. “She is under the care of the brain injury clinic at King’s Hospital in London.”
Bones were fractured in her left hand and plates and screws had to be inserted, leaving reduced movement and grip.
She suffered bruising and swelling to the right side of her head and now has “lifelong” tinnitus and balance problems.
A hairline fracture to her breastbone made breathing painful. She also had a sprained coccyx.
Judge Adele Williams told Brown: “You caused life changing injuries. You should not have been driving at all. You were exhausted and stressed through a combination of drugs.
“That combination caused you to fall asleep at the wheel. There was a substantial risk of harm, which makes your position more serious.
“It has changed a young woman’s life. Her brain injury will affect her long term. She can no longer work. There is no proper remorse until today. Driving while unfit was grossly irresponsible.”
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.