Merseyside driver who had suffered epileptic episodes jailed for causing the death of a teenage boy

09/11/2017

A Merseyside man who continued driving despite several episodes of epilepsy has been jailed for causing the death of a sixteen-year-old boy.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that a car being driven by Andrew Williams, 49, careered into Connor Smith on the pavement of Old Chester Road in Birkenhead at 7.30am on Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Connor Smith, from Rock Ferry, who had been on his way to work as an apprentice joiner at the time, died from his injuries.

Witnesses near the scene described Williams' car being driven at high speed and on the wrong side of the road.

The car collided with some bollards and was then driven straight towards Connor Smith. The teenager could do nothing to avoid the impact.

The car eventually crashed into a nearby wall. Williams had to be cut free from the car and had suffered a number of injuries including a fractured cheekbone and pelvis. Blood specimens were taken but there was no evidence of either alcohol or drugs.

Williams later told police that the last thing he remembered was having a coughing fit and then waking up in hospital.

He said that he was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1988 and had been prescribed Phenytoin which he had been taking regularly. He did not know that he had temporal lobe epilepsy.

He described his symptoms as slurred speech, headaches, loss of control and absences.He had had an appointment with a Consultant Neurologist at Walton Hospital the year before where he had been advised to have a brain scan and to tell the Driving and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) about his condition.

There was also a note in his medical records about not driving, but Williams denied he had been told not to drive. However, he did admit that he made no mention of his epilepsy when he renewed his motor insurance. He also admitted he had been awake for over 19 hours when the incident happened.

Today (9 November 2017) Williams was jailed for three years and four months and banned from driving for six years and eight months. He must pass an extended driving test before he can drive again.

Connor’s mother read out a Victim Personal Statement to the court, describing the desolation she and Connor’s family have experienced since the incident.

Rob Jones, Crown Advocate with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service said: "The Crown Prosecution Service said that it was most likely that Andrew Williams had an epileptic episode shortly before this incident.

"He claimed he had had a coughing fit but that would have been unlikely to have caused a blackout. As an epileptic, the defendant should have told the DVLA of his condition. It is incumbent upon any driver to be sure he or she is fit to drive. The defendant's medical notes indicate numerous incidents preceding January 2016.

"The driver was also very tired and had had virtually no sleep during the previous 24 hours. He had chosen to drive knowing he had a medical condition that significantly and dangerously impaired his driving ability. That combination was undoubtedly the cause of the accident that resulted in the tragic and unnecessary death of Connor Smith. The Crown Prosecution Service would like to extend  condolences to the family of Connor Smith who have conducted themselves with dignity throughout."