A motorist who killed a woman returning from her sister’s funeral and left her children orphaned was still suffering the effects of taking ‘a lot’ of drugs days before, a court heard today.
Lewis Faulkner became drowsy at the wheel of his BMW when it drifted into the opposite lane of a 60mph road and ploughed into Tereasa Cutler’s Ford Fiesta.
Mrs Cutler, 49, a widow, was killed almost instantly in the collision on the A31 near Wimborne, Dorset.
Her two teenage children, Alice, 19, and Daniel, 17, whose father had died from cancer several years before, were left seriously injured.
Widow Tereasa Cutler, 49, (right) was killed instantly on the A31 in Dorset and her children Daniel, 16, (left) and Alice, 18, (middle) were both seriously injured when Lewis Faulkner veered into the opposite carriageway
Her 19-year-old nephew Joseph Woodland, the son of Patricia Woodland whose funeral the family had just been to, was also badly hurt.
Faulkner, 25, from Dorchester, in Dorset, had traces of ecstasy and cannabis in his blood having taken the substances five days before. He admitted the effects of this contributed to his drowsiness at the time.
Faulkner, a plasterer, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was today jailed for four years and four months at Bournemouth Crown Court.
Lewis Faulkner, 25, from Dorchester, arriving at Bournemouth Crown Court
Judge Peter Crabtree said: ‘This is a tragic case where your offending has had catastrophic consequences for not just the lady killed but the other people in the vehicle.
‘At a critical time in their lives, they have been orphaned, their financial and parental support has disappeared. Alice has responsibilities for her brother long before she should have any responsibilities.
‘Lives have been changed beyond recognition.
‘You were at least drowsy and, having taken cannabis and MDMA, the remnants in your bloodstream did not directly affect your driving but was a contributory factor in respect of drowsiness.”
Alice Cutler, who is studying law at Southampton University, suffered a broken back and fractured wrist, in the crash.
She said in a victim impact statement: ‘I should be at home with my mum and brother, enjoying our life together which mum worked so hard to provide for us.
‘Instead I am stood here mourning the needless loss of my mum’s life which was so unnecessary.
‘I will grow up without my mum, my children will not know their grandmother and there will be an empty seat at our weddings where our mum should have been.’
The court heard the family had been to Mrs Woodland’s funeral in Poole, Dorset, after the ambulance technician died from an illness in June last year.
Mrs Cutler was driving her Ford Fiesta west on the A31 when her car smashed into Faulkner’s black BMW 3 series which was on the wrong side of the road.
The court heard Faulkner had taken the drugs on Friday June 5 but still had traces of them in his blood on the day of the crash on June 10.
Simon Jones, prosecuting, said: ‘At a gentle left hand bend Mr Faulkner took a straight line without negotiation of the bend at all, crossing totally onto the wrong side of the road colliding head on with Mrs Cutler.
Devastating scene of the crash on the A31 near Wimborne in June last year, Mrs Cutler was in a silver Ford Fiesta(left) and Faulkner was in a black 3 series BMW (right)
‘Both vehicles went up in the air and turned 90 degrees. The Ford was thrown off the carriageway and into the hedge.
‘Mr Faulkner concedes that MDMA was in his system. He took it voluntarily.
‘He accepts that the residual effects of taking the substance could include drowsiness and that taking the substance may have contributed to the drowsiness he felt that day.’
Faulkner did not know how much drugs he had taken but it had made him very ill the next day and he said it must have been a lot to still show in his bloodstream five days later.
He suffered suffered two collapsed lungs and two broken legs. His 22-year-old passenger Harry Barlow had ligament damage, a dislocated shoulder, whiplash and bruising.
Patrick Mason, representing Faulkner, said: ‘He is an absolutely shattered young man, deeply affected by these circumstances, which he understands he brought about.
In a touching statement read out in court Alice Cutler wrote ‘I should be at home with my mum and brother, enjoying our life together which mum worked so hard to provide for us. Instead I am stood here mourning the needless loss of my mum’s life which was so unnecessary’
‘He will never be the same again. Life stopped at that point for him and he has struggled as a result of the physical and psychological impact on him.
‘Many thousands of people drive every day when they are drowsy. It’s a risk people take and he did.
‘He lost concentration for whatever reason at that point and the place where the car ended up was dangerous.
‘He accepts he is responsible for those consequences.’
Faulkner also pleaded guilty to three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and one count of causing death while driving without insurance.
As well as jail Faulkner was handed a driving ban of four years and eight months. He will also have to pass an extended test before he can drive again.
Sergeant Lee Savage, of Dorset Police’s road traffic unit, said: ‘We still do not know why Faulkner failed to negotiate the bend and caused this head-on collision.
‘The prosecution case was that he must have fallen asleep and this case highlights the dangers of driving while tired and after using recreational drugs.
‘His driving that day led to devastating consequences. Alice and Daniel lost their much-loved mother and Joe lost an auntie who had just taken on parental responsibility for him following his own mother’s death.
‘This is one of the most heart-breaking cases I have dealt with and I would like to pay tribute to them for the strength they have shown throughout this tragic time.’