A driver who believes she suffered a blackout behind the wheel and says she has no memory of a crash which seriously injured a cyclist has avoided an immediate custodial sentence, the judge calling the case a "mystery" and handing out a suspended sentence instead.
Angela Cass admitted causing serious injury by careless driving, two counts of failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident and driving without due care and attention, in relation to the Southport collision which left a neighbour with lifelong "physical and mental scars" and a severe list of injuries.
The 44-year-old fled the scene after hitting Shaun Knight, throwing him onto the bonnet before the vehicle was driven over his legs, but returned to the scene five minutes later having crashed into a fence outside a nearby house, causing "fairly significant damage", the Liverpool Echo reports.
On her return an eyewitness challenged the driver, asking her if she was not going to stop, only to be told "it wasn't me" by Cass who drove away again and reversed onto her driveway on nearby Cypress Crescent.
Mr Knight suffered a broken ankle and two fractures to his pelvis and has been left with lifelong "physical and mental scars", arthritis due to his injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He was treated at Southport Hospital and recalled hearing a "car revving behind him" before the crash just before 9am on 22 September 2022. Having been thrown in the air he "got the impression the car was speeding up" and hit the ground before the driver "revved again" and drove over his legs.
In court, Mr Knight's statement said he had "never screamed like that in my entire life". "In my nightmares, I experience the feeling of being crushed. It doesn't help that the driver lives over the road from me. Every time I go out of the house is a reminder of what happened. I feel extremely frustrated and angry. She didn't get out to apologise or show any concern," the court heard.
Cass told the police she could not recall the incidents, but admitted being the driver of the car and surrendered her driving licence.
Defending, Kate Morley said her client had no previous convictions, is "a stranger to these courts" and is "remorseful".
"She has lost her good name and her reputation. Ms Cass' medical notes demonstrate that, even prior to this offence, she has suffered with poor memory, anxiety and depression," the court heard.
"She is devastated that she behaved in the way that she did. She is never ordinarily a cruel or callous lady. Ordinarily, she is a conscientious driver. It is not the case that she is cruel in not wanting to apologise. She did not want to go knocking on his door in case that caused added distress. She is devastated about what she has done.
"It is a rather odd case. She appears to lack a motive to flee the scene. In my submission, this was a blackout or something of that nature. Ms Cass has had her share of trauma, which she believes is at the root of her neurological issues. This includes the breakup of her 25-year marriage and an acrimonious fallout. This was an isolated incident and totally out of character."
The judge, John McGarva, called the incident a "mystery" and "very unusual", sentencing Cass to six months imprisonment suspended for a year, a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 30 days and a 12-month driving ban.
"This is a very unusual case. It is hard to understand what has really happened here," he said. "It is kind of hard to imagine a much worse case of this offence. Not being satisfied with you having him on your bonnet for a short distance, he is deposited onto the road and you drive over him.
"It is absolutely horrific. It must have been terrifying for him and exceptionally painful. I would not say you left him for dead, but that is the kind of implication. You had no reason at all to flee the scene. The reason you left appears to be a bit of a mystery. There is no explanation for you driving into a clearly visible cyclist then driving over him.
"This man will be left with the physical and mental scars for the rest of his life. I must impose a custodial sentence. There is an argument here that a deterrent is required, because members of the public need to know that they must stop after accidents like this. I have got a balance to strike.
"My view is that the balance in this case is in favour of suspending the sentence, and that is what I am going to do. That in no way diminishes the seriousness of the offence."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.