Drunk driver who caused crash on Redbourn bypass jailed

Karen Tilley has been sentenced to two years in prison, and banned from driving for life.

Karen Tilley has been sentenced to two years in prison, and banned from driving for life. - Credit: Archant

A drunk driver who was four times over the limit when she was involved in a crash has been imprisoned following a crash in Redbourn.

Karen Tilley, 54, from Cambridge, appeared at St Albans crown court on Friday, April 21 after pleading guilty to drink driving and driving without a licence.

Last October, she had driven from Harpenden to visit her father in hospital.

She lost control of his car on Dunstable Road at 1.24pm, hitting a blue Renault Clio travelling in the opposite direction.

She then ploughed into a silver Clio, being driven by 87-year-old Leonard Roberts, with his 86-year-old wife, Jean, in the passenger seat.

Firefighters had to use hydraulic cutting equipment to get into the Roberts’ car.

Prosecutor Ann Evans said: “Mrs Roberts was so severely injured she was flown by air ambulance the Royal London Hospital, where she was in an induced coma for a week.

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“She was so badly injured doctors were thinking of a Do Not Resuscitate notice.

“She suffered spinal fractures, severe internal bleeding, many rib fractures, damaged vertebrae, and was in hospital for six weeks.

“Previously she said she had been very active, but what the defendant did to her makes her now feel like an old lady.”

Mr Roberts, a former road safety officer with a clean driving licence back to 1948, suffered rib fractures, cuts and bruises.

The court was told Tilley had drunk three-quarters of a bottle of vodka until 4am in the morning, and had previous convictions for drink driving.

Her defence, Richard Gregory, said: “She drinks to deal with her difficulties. In 2005 she was diagnosed as bipolar.

“Her brother, partner and her mother have all died.

“Since she was a teenager she has taken to drink when problems arise and takes solace in alcohol.”

He went on: “She is remorseful and is concerned not for herself, but for the actions she caused on that day.”

Judge Andrew Bright QC said: “It could easily have been a causing death by dangerous driving case. It is a miracle Mrs Roberts survived.

“A disqualification from driving for life is the only way to keep the public safe.

“You got behind the wheel of that car knowing you were putting your life, and the lives of innocent people like the Roberts, at risk.”

He sentenced her to two years in prison, and banned her from driving for life.