Drink-driver jailed for crash death
Friday 19 August 2011
A drink-driver who knocked down and killed a pedestrian on a crossing while unable to see out of her icy windscreen has been jailed for two years.
Ex-soldier Nicola Elgie, 27, had gone through a red light when she ran over Stephen Rutter, 35, in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, at 7.30am on March 7.
Judge John Evans, sitting at Durham Crown Court, said Elgie had been "driving blind".
She told police after the collision that she had originally de-iced the car but the windscreen froze over again when she switched on the washer and used her wipers.
Elgie, an Iraq veteran, had drunk five alcopops the previous night, and only went to bed at 2am before going to work.
Tests showed she was 20% over the legal limit, the judge said.
She admitted at a previous hearing to causing death by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit.
Judge Evans said it was "a horribly tragic case".
Mr Rutter, who lived with his mother and sister, was on his way to work in Newcastle when he was knocked down.
The court heard the traffic lights were on red and the pedestrian crossing was showing green in his favour when he was hit.
He suffered head injuries when he struck the windscreen and was thrown into the road and died the next day at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.
A witness saw Elgie's car did not slow down or stop, the court heard, until after the impact, despite the red light.
She told police she had cleared the windscreen on the frosty morning, but it became obscured as she used the vehicle's washer when she negotiated a roundabout near the crossing in Ropery Lane.
Judge Evans said Elgie, of High Handenhold, County Durham, should have stopped immediately.
He added: "You said after that accident you should have pulled over. You should have indeed, it was your duty to do so."
Ros Scott Bell, defending, said: "She's appalled by what she has done.
"Her actions that day are constantly with her.
"She has said on a number of occasions that she wishes that it was her that died."
The judge accepted her remorse was genuine, that she had served her country, was of good character and had no previous conditions.
Elgie wept as she was jailed for two years and was told she was disqualified from driving for three-and-a-half years.
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