Ronald Dossett was driving his blue Honda Civic southbound on the A280 on 17 January 2019, when he veered into the opposite carriageway.
His vehicle collided head-on with an orange Suzuki Ignis driven by Nicola Drummond, 44, of Long Furlong, Findon, who was airlifted to hospital but sadly died from her injuries later that day.
Her two children, a son then aged 14 and a daughter then aged six, were also in the car at the time, and sustained serious injuries which they have thankfully recovered from.
Dossett, 75, of Marks Tey Road, Fareham, Hampshire, was seriously injured and his wife, also 75, sustained minor injuries.
A third vehicle collided with Dossett’s vehicle and the driver of that vehicle also sustained injuries.
The defendant was reported for summons and entered a guilty plea to causing death by careless driving. At Lewes Crown Court on Friday (27 November), he was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. He was also disqualified from driving for 30 months and must take an extended re-test should he wish to drive again.
Judge Christie Laing QC described Mrs Drummond as an “extraordinary woman” whose last words when trapped in her car were for her two children to be taken care of before her.
Judge Laing QC added she was satisfied it was not a momentary lapse in concentration by Dossett, and that he either fell asleep or was doing something that so distracted him that he did not realise that anything was amiss, as he made no attempt to avoid the collision.
In mitigation, Dossett claimed he did not remember what happened and had been having difficulty in coming to terms with it being his responsibility, but now accepts that he caused the collision.
Investigating officer, PC Shirley Ross, of the Surrey and Sussex Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This was a tragic case which claimed the life of a local woman, the effects of which will sadly be long-lasting for her family and friends.
“Careless driving is recognised by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) as one of the ‘fatal five’ offences, along with speeding, drink and drug-driving, mobile phone use and not wearing a seatbelt. These are proven to be the five most common causes of fatal and serious injury collisions across the UK, and together we need to do more to reduce the number of casualties.
“Working together with partners, through education and enforcement, we aim to protect all road users and deal robustly with anyone who compromises the safety of themselves or others.”
Mrs Drummond’s family wished to thank everyone involved in the case who helped to bring it to a conclusion.