Woman who lost unborn baby in crash found not guilty of driver death charge

A mother-to-be who lost her unborn baby in a crash that resulted in the death of another motorist in Wales has been found not guilty of causing death by driving without due care and attention.

Laura Matthews-James, 35, went on trial at Swansea Crown Court last week over her involvement in a collision on the B4300 near Carmarthen on February 26 2016.

A jury today found Mrs Matthews-James, who denied the allegation in relation to the death of 54-year-old Robert Hitchcock, not guilty.

Prosecutor Jim Davies previously told the court Mr Hitchcock was killed "probably instantaneously" in the accident at around 8.45am while Mrs Matthews-James, who was seven months pregnant with her first child by IVF at the time, was herself seriously injured and had to be airlifted to hospital.

Once there, medics discovered her son had died in the womb and delivered him stillborn by emergency Caesarean section.

Mrs Matthews-James, of Gate Road, Penygroes, a biomedical scientist, had dropped her dog off at her mother-in-law's house and was on her way to work at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen, having just passed through the village of Llanarthney, when the crash happened, the court heard.

The jury was told she lost control of her Fiat 500 after overtaking two cars and collided with Mr Hitchcock's vehicle in the oncoming lane.

Mrs Matthews-James had no recollection of the accident or of her first seven days in hospital due to the severity of her injuries.

Defence witness Dr Michael Alcock, a forensic psychiatrist, examined Mrs Matthews-James in May and concluded her memory loss was genuine and that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reading from the doctor's statement, Ignatius Hughes QC, for the defence, said: "Mrs Matthews-James told me her emotional state remains fragile and depressed, (she said she) didn't want to bring a child into this world as she thought she was a bad mother having 'killed my baby'."

Dr Alcock said Mrs Matthews-James told him she thought of Mr Hitchcock and would "happily swap places" with him.

The court heard Mrs Matthews-James met her husband-to-be, Andrew, in 2002. They married in 2012 and decided to start a family.

After struggling to conceive, the couple underwent IVF and Mrs Matthews-James was 28 weeks pregnant at the time of the collision.

Dr Alcock said: "There is no doubt in my mind that Mrs Matthews-James has undergone severe physical and psychological trauma."

In his closing speech Mr Hughes said: "This is a woman not only driving along in no hurry, definitely not using a mobile phone, on her way to work on a road she has used many times and she knows well - it is also someone who has never done anything remotely like this.

"She has never driven carelessly... she has never had so much as a point on her licence."

Mr Hughes urged the jury to consider the evidence of eyewitnesses including Hannah Waldron, who was driving the first car Mrs Matthews-James overtook, and who described the manoeuvre as "calm" and "not dangerous" and the possibility that she had lost control of her car after driving over mud and debris in the middle of the road.

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