Driver who ploughed into south London school end-of-year tea party, leaving two girls…

Driver who ploughed into south London school end-of-year tea party, leaving two girls…

26 June 2024, 15:45 | Updated: 26 June 2024, 16:01

Two schoolgirls died in the crash at The Study girls' school

Two schoolgirls died in the crash at The Study girls’ school.

Picture:
Alamy

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A 4×4 driver who ploughed into the playground of a school in London leaving two eight-year-old girls dead will face no charges.

The woman crashed her Land Rover Defender into the end of year tea party at The Study girls’ school in Wimbledon in July last year. She was arrested and bailed on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

The Crown Prosecution Service said today that the driver will face no criminal charges after medical experts ruled she suffered an epileptic seizure at the wheel.

The CPS said the driver had no prior diagnosis of a medical condition and had never had a seizure before.

The driver of the car, Claire Freemantle, has expressed her “deepest sorrow” and said she had “no recollection of what took place” after losing consciousness because of an epileptic seizure at the wheel.

In a statement to the PA news agency, she said: “Since I became aware of the terrible event that took place on July 6, the devastating consequences for all those affected have not left my thoughts and will be with me for the rest of my life.

“I have since been diagnosed as having suffered an epileptic seizure with loss of consciousness. This was not a pre-existing condition. As a result of losing consciousness I have no recollection of what took place.

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“I can only express my deepest sorrow for the families who have suffered such dreadful loss and injury.

“As a mother, I understand there can be no words that adequately express the pain and loss resulting from what happened in those horrendous moments while I was unconscious.

“My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of the children and families affected, and especially to the parents of Nuria Sajjad and Selena Lau.”

Jaswant Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor with oversight of the Crown Prosecution Service London Homicide Unit, said: “The death of a child is an unthinkable tragedy for any parent. On behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to both bereaved families who have suffered the devastating loss of their children, Nuria and Selena.

Nuria Sajjad, 8, was killed in the crash

Nuria Sajjad, 8, was killed in the crash.

Picture:
Alamy

“We have carefully considered this complex and sensitive case, taking into consideration all the material gathered as part of the lengthy and detailed police investigation.

“The driver of the vehicle had an epileptic seizure behind the wheel, which caused her to lose control of the vehicle which then drove into the school. There is no evidence the driver had ever suffered a similar seizure before and she had no previously diagnosed medical condition.

“Because there is nothing to suggest the driver could have done anything to predict or prevent this tragedy, it is not in the public interest to pursue a criminal prosecution.

Mr Narwal continued: “In reaching this decision we have considered the driver’s full medical records, obtained by police, and received evidence from neurological specialists, who agreed that the driver had a seizure and that this was the first such medical episode she had experienced.

“Throughout this process we have met with the bereaved families on several occasions, to ensure they are kept informed of the case progress and to fully explain the decision we have made.

“Our thoughts remain with them today, as well as with the other injured victims and the wider school community upon whom this tragic incident has had a profound impact.”

It is understood the driver has surrendered her licence and cannot reapply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency until she has been free of any seizures for a year.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland, in charge of policing for south west London, said: “This was a deeply tragic incident, the circumstances of which caused widespread shock and sadness.

“The families of Nuria and Selena – who we know are greatly loved and missed – are always in our thoughts, but particularly so in light of this development.

“Throughout the course of this investigation they have been supported by dedicated family liaison officers.

“Those officers were present earlier today when the outcome was relayed to the families by the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), and they will continue to support them in any way they can going forward.

“I previously met with both families and have offered to meet them again should they have unanswered questions about the investigation following this outcome.

“Following a lengthy, detailed and complex investigation, a file of evidential material was passed to the CPS for them to consider whether charges were appropriate.

“Having carefully examined all of the information received, they have now confirmed the driver will not face charges.”

Nuria Sajjad and fellow eight-year-old pupil Selena Lau died after the crash at The Study Prep school in Wimbledon, south-west London, on July 6 last year.

Several others were injured when the 4×4 crashed through a fence and collided with a building.

Trevor Sterling, lawyer for the families, said: “This is disappointing; justice must not only be done, but seen to be done.

“In the absence of a process, how do we interrogate the evidence? What does this message send to the public that deaths can arise in a road traffic situation, and there could be no sanction because there is no process to interrogate the evidence?

“The next focus will be on the inquest, and there will be a deep and thorough review of the evidence, which will be examined by a jury if necessary.”

https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/wimbledon-school-crash-driver-land-rover-two-dead-no-charges/

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