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Katja Kouzmitchenko death: ‘Inexperience of driving' caused fatal A39 accident

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

A tragic tale of a teenaged girl’s inexperience of driving which left her best friend dead following an accident near Glastonbury was relived when she appeared in court.

Magistrates were told that Hollie Joelle Roads, aged 19, was left devastated after a freak accident on the A39 Hartlake Straight in May this year when she lost control of her car.

The victim, Katja Kouzmitchenko – known to her friends as Katy K – was a back seat passenger and received fatal injuries after the car collided with another vehicle coming the opposite way. She was a student at Strode College in Street and was studying for a BTech qualification in Extended Performing Arts at the time of her death.

The court heard that the defendant had over-compensated by braking too hard after her car hit a bumpy patch in the road.

The car spun onto the opposite carriageway but Roads and another passenger in the car emerged with relatively minor injuries.

Roads, of Holmlea, Wookey, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by careless driving when she appeared before South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates. She was accompanied in court by members of her own family along with the victim’s mother who had since become close friends with the defendant.

Prosecutor Christine Hart said it was a very sad case as the defendant and the victim had been best friends.

On the night in question the group of friends were travelling from Glastonbury to Wells with Miss Kouzmitchenko sat in the back and another female sat in the front passenger seat.

Miss Hart said: “Whilst the defendant was driving she lost control of her Vauxhall Corsa on a bump and her wheels drifted onto the grass verge.

“In her attempt to gain control she braked hard and the car rotated onto the opposite carriageway into the path of an oncoming Citroen, the driver of which could not avoid a collision.

“The Citroen crashed into the rear nearside of the Corsa causing fatal injuries to Miss Kouzmitchenko.”

Miss Hart said that the defendant was a relatively inexperienced driver and had only held a driving licence since November 2011.

A report was commissioned on the state of the road regarding bumps and dips in the surface and although it confirmed there were dips in the road, there were signs warning of an uneven surface.

The report also produced details of people who had had accidents and the majority had been able to negotiate the road safely.

“It was concluded that it was the defendant’s inexperience that led to the loss of control on this particular road and a more experienced driver would have taken proper care of the road conditions and should have passed over the road safely,” added Miss Hart.

Defending solicitor Jeffrey Bannister said that after Roads passed her test last year she bought her car with the help of her grandfather and it was her pride and joy.

He said: “She really enjoyed driving and would go out and about with her friends and would always drive sensibly and carefully.

“On this night they had been to McDonalds in Street and travelling back she was driving between 50 and 60mph in a 60mph speed limit and had been on this road on many occasions.

“The road started to undulate, she lost control and braked too hard which caused her car to start to spin and then the accident happened.

“It was a very sad incident and my client thinks about it every day. It will live with her for many years to come and she is devastated by what has happened to her friend.”

In sentencing Roads, chairman of the magistrates, David Maynard-Griffin, said that they had found no aggravating features in the case but found lower culpability for the accident due to her lack of driving experience.

“The victim was sadly known to you and our guidelines suggest that a low level community order would be the most appropriate way of dealing with you,” he said.

They imposed a 12 month community order with a requirement to carry out 60 hours unpaid work. They also disqualified her from driving for 12 months and ordered her to pay £50 towards costs.

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