The mum of a student killed in a head-on crash with a doctor who became distracted by lights has spoken out.
Sally Robeson was responsible for the collision that led to the death of 19-year-old Rebecca Davies on January 2, 2020 on the A4042 near Llanellen, in Monmouthshire.
The 33-year-old denied causing death by dangerous driving but was found guilty following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
The young student, from Goytre, suffered catastrophic injuries to her stomach and died at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny two hours after the crash.
The cause of death was given as an injury to the belly including laceration of mesentery, ileum, and diaphragm, WalesOnline reports.
Rebecca’s parents Carol and William Davies also suffered serious injuries as a result of the crash, with Mrs Davies sustaining a broken neck, collar bone, ribs, hip and ankle as well as a dislocated elbow and an arm fracture.
Robeson appeared at Newport Crown Court to be sentenced on Monday, September 6, and during the hearing Carol Davies attended to read out a powerful victim impact statement which heard her describe the “huge and life-changing impact” caused to her family by the incident.
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She said: “By far the greatest loss we suffered from the accident is the death of our beautiful, fun-loving, intelligent, caring and compassionate daughter who loved music, singing and dancing and was always striving to make our world a better place.
“We were a very close family unit and always spent quality time together. Our lives were closely entwined caring and supporting each other. Becky was our life, our shining star, the music in our life. We had come to a point where our loving daughter had become our friend.
Becky’s death left the whole family shocked and in a state of grief, and are still struggling to come to terms with her death today.
“Becky was very popular with her friends from university and school, our local chapel and within our village. She had the ability to put anyone at easy and included people within activities that she was involved in. The whole community was shocked by her death.
“The whole village grieved for weeks after hearing the devastating news, which was apparent from all the tributes and cards that everyone had written.”
Robeson, of Danesleigh Gardens, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was on her way to work a shift at Nevill Hall Hospital as a senior house doctor specialising in trauma and orthopaedics.
But her pink Peugeot 208 left the right side of the carriageway at a bend and collided with a Suzuki Swift driven by Carol Davies with Mr Davies in the front passenger seat and Rebecca in the back.
During the course of the trial the jury heard at the point of impact three of the four tyres belonging to Robeson’s Peugeot had crossed the white line and the majority of the vehicle was on the wrong side of the road.
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Mrs Davies explained at the sentencing how her daughter was studying in her second year at Birmingham University towards a degree in biochemistry, aiming to undertake a postgraduate degree in medicine, with a passion for science, particularly biology.
She had completed her training as a volunteer with St John Ambulance and had become a volunteer at St Mary’s Hospice in Birmingham.
She had applied to become a university ambassador, and had just completed her training ready to visit a sixth form school to offer advice to youngsters.
“The accident caused by Sally Robeson prevented her from achieving this,” Mrs Williams told the court.
“She was well liked by her tutors and friends at university and it was very apparent that she touched so many lives in the short time that they knew her. Her personal tutor wrote that Becky’s life was an inspiration and that he admired her determination and passion.”
Mrs Davies also described the impact the accident had on her personally, explaining how she and her husband had to receive emergency counselling following the devastating loss of their only child.
She attended her daughter’s funeral in a wheelchair, and a body and neck brace due to her sustaining a broken neck in the crash, and her arm was in plaster.
“It has made me endure the most traumatic time in my life,” she said.
“After the crash I was trapped in the car for almost three whole dark hours and it became quite apparent that I had suffered many horrific injuries. I remembered it was so frustrating that I was trapped and couldn’t move.
“I was well aware that my husband and Becky were also badly injured. I could see Becky laid out by the side of the car but I couldn’t get out of the car to be with her and comfort her when she most needed me.
“After being cut out of the car I was rushed into hospital where I was immobilised because of a broken neck plus other serious injuries. I remember the unbearable pain in the right side of my body and a need to hang onto life for my family.
“The pain and disbelief that ripped through my whole body when I was told that Becky didn’t make it far exceeded any pain from my injuries. I cried out ‘no, no – she can’t be dead’.
“I wouldn’t believe the doctors. When I saw her lifeless body I was not allowed to move because of the extent of my life-changing injuries so I couldn’t even hold her for a last time to tell her how much she was loved and how proud we were of her.
“I was unable to give her a final hug, a final goodnight kiss. I didn’t get the chance to say my final goodbye. That was the moment my life was pushed into a living hell, and every day has become a mental struggle just to survive without her.
“Every time I look in the mirror it is a constant reminder of the accident and what it has taken away from myself and my husband.
“In total I had seven long weeks in hospital recovering from life-changing injuries, and for most of this time I could not be held or hugged by my family to help me with my grief because my body was so broken and bruised.
“I had to have major surgery on my arm which has left me with limited use, weakness and constant pain. I still have ongoing intensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to try and increase my mobility and movement range.”
Describing her husband’s injuries, Mrs Davies explained how he had also sustained substantial injuries, which hospitalised him for two weeks, forcing him to “endure extreme pain”, which required a thoracic epidural, and continues to suffer pain as a result of his injuries.
“He remembers nothing from the accident which was caused by the brain haemorrhage injury,” Mrs Davies said.
“Everyone tells us that we were lucky to survive, but we often think it would have been better if we had all died that evening as a result of the accident. It would have been so much easier than constantly facing the trauma and grief that we have to live through each and every day.
“Friends and family say that time is a great healer, but this is not the case for us, as we will never forget the accident, the trauma and the tragic way that Becky died without us.
“My husband and I have been served a life sentence of immeasurable grief, trauma, anxiety and physical pain.”
Mitigating for Robeson, her solicitor Heath Edwards said: “She is a conscientious and thoughtful driver on the roads. When one looks at the incident itself it has never been said that she was racing or driving in any way that was reckless in that regard.
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“The consequences of what took place on January 2, 2020 will live with Sally Robeson forever in the same way, of course, that it will live with Carol Davies. Nobody hearing what Carol Davies has told us today could simply move on with one’s life without deep reflection.
“We have heard from Sally Robeson during the course of the trial and it has shattered her, and it has shattered her career. She worked long and hard to forge a professional career for herself. She has put a lot back into society, and all of this stands in marked contrast when one finds herself in the dock to be sentenced for this criminal offence.”
Sentencing Robeson, his honour Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “No one listening to the eloquent address given by Mrs Davies could fail to be moved by the effects this incident has had on their family.
“This is a tragically sad case and I want to make it abundantly clear that no sentence that I can pass can begin to address the pain or sense of loss to Mr and Mrs Davies following the loss of their daughter.
“This was a momentary lapse which I have no doubt will live with you as it will Mr and Mrs Davies for the rest of your days. The consequences of that lapse are a sober reminder to us all.”
Judge Jenkins sentenced Robeson to an 18-month community order, with a 10-day rehabilitation requirement. She has been disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for two years and told she must pay a £2,000 contribution towards prosecution costs.