Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Pregnant driver who lost her baby and killed friend in crash jailed

Pregnant driver, 26, who lost her baby and killed her best friend when her car overturned in ‘road rage crash’ is jailed for 28 months

  • Emma Robinson, 26, had been driving Fiat 500 along the A414 St Albans Road
  • She undertook another vehicle in act of ‘road rage’ before slamming on brakes 
  • But the larger Toyota traveling behind was unable to stop in time 
  • Grace Estep, 26, who had been a passenger in the Fiat, died at the scene 
  • Robinson pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed

A pregnant driver who lost her baby and caused the death of her best friend when her car overturned during a dangerous driving manoeuvre has been jailed for 28 months.

Emma Robinson, 26, had been driving her Fiat 500 along the A414 St Albans Road, in Hemel Hempstead, in August last year.   

She undertook another vehicle in a believed act of road rage before slamming on her car’s brakes twice to ‘brake check’ the driver behind.

But the larger Toyota traveling behind was unable to stop in time and the collision caused Robinson’s car to crash into the grass central reservation before it overturned and hit a car on the opposite carriageway.

Grace Estep, 26, who had been a passenger in the Fiat at the time, died at the scene. 

Robinson also lost her baby after suffering serious injuries and has been registered disabled following the incident.

Yesterday, she pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was given a 28-month prison sentence. 

Emma Robinson, 26, caused the death of her best friend Grace Estep, 26, (pictured) when her car overturned during a dangerous driving manoeuvre

Robinson had picked Grace up that evening from her family home as the pair went to collect a takeaway.

On the stretch of road between Jarmans Park retail park and the Plough Roundabout Robinson’s Fiat was in the left-hand lane with a Toyota in the right-hand lane.

In a statement read to court, the driver of the Toyota said he became panicked while trying to pass the car.

Instead, the Fiat undertook the Toyota and moved over into the right lane. 

The Fiat then ‘brake checked’ – a move meaning an abrupt stop forcing the car behind to quickly apply the brakes – the first time slightly and then much more firmly a second time.

The Toyota driver added: ‘All I can remember seeing is red brake lights and then [the second time] I don’t remember if I had time to brake.

‘There was nothing on the inside lane, there was nothing in front of us.’

The driver of a Mazda saw the two cars approaching in his mirrors – at one point meaning the three cars were close to driving parallel on the two-lane road.

In a statement, the Mazda driver said the cars were not going very fast but were likely over the limit and, once they passed, he said: ‘I remember thinking, “I don’t know where the Fiat is going to go”.’

Robinson had been driving her Fiat 500 along the A414 St Albans Road, in Hemel Hempstead, in August last year when she crashed (pictured)

He also saw the Fiat brake twice, the first time there was about a car’s length separating the vehicles, and just half a car’s length the second.

The Mazda driver had been asked why he thought the crash had occurred and he said: ‘Whoever was driving the Fiat had some issue with the Toyota and decided to brake – the second time they were so close they could not do anything.’

The driver’s wife also recalled Robinson giving the pair a middle-finger gesture as she passed and described her driving as ‘erratic and irresponsible’.

In her statement she added: ‘I don’t see how the driver of the white car could do anything differently.’

In an interview while under caution, Robinson claimed the Toyota had been ‘zig-zagging’ and she had been trying to create space between the vehicles, however the prosecution said there was no evidence to support her claims. 

Robinson pleaded guilty to the offence at St Albans Crown Court yesterday at the first opportunity. 

Speaking in her defence, solicitor Mr Kumar, said that Robinson has been left ‘disfigured’ following the incident and has lost 40 per cent of her vision which is unlikely to ever improve.

He added that Robinson was pregnant at the time and lost her baby following the crash.

Two other drivers also suffered minor injuries in the crash. 

In a statement read to court, Grace’s mother Sandra Estep described her as the ‘light of our lives’.

She said: ‘Emma and Gracie had known each other since they were teenagers. They went on their first girly holiday together, they had a great friendship and they would speak and see each other many times a week.

‘Gracie was the light of lives, she truly was the most loving caring and funny girl. We didn’t realise exactly how much she was loved by all that knew her until her tragic passing.

‘She lived for her children and would be utterly devastated that they now live apart and this will obviously affect them for the rest of their lives.’

Robinson had previously been banned from driving in 2019 after failing to provide a breath specimen when she was suspected of drink-driving.

She will also be disqualified from driving for three years and two months and will be required to take an extended retest before driving again.

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