An intensive care nurse who was high on a ‘toxic’ level of Tramadol when she killed a 65-year-old driver in a head-on collision days before his 46th wedding anniversary was today jailed for five years.
Cerys Price, 28, was at the wheel of her driving instructor father’s Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck on the A467 near Rogerstone, Newport, when she crossed into the opposite carriageway while suffering a seizure and smashed into Robert Dean.
The father-of-three died instantly from his injuries, and Price’s then-boyfriend Jack Tinklin, 30, who was a passenger in her Vauxhall Astra on their trip to a holiday in Gower, South Wales, also suffered serious injuries.
Price spent around a month in hospital following the crash on July 15, 2016 after suffering a knee injury. During her treatment a blood sample taken from her revealed a high level of the painkiller Tramadol in her system.
The medication had not been prescribed and was later found to have been purchased by Price while she had holidayed in Mexico one month earlier after suffering pains connected to a miscarriage.
Police found a tub of Tramadol tablets in her smashed vehicle’s glove compartment with only 26 of its 100 pills remaining. Tests found 1,803 micrograms of tramadol per millilitre in Price’s blood at the time of the accident. The therapeutic level is 400.
During Price’s trial an expert toxicologist described the concentration of the drugs in her system as ‘toxic or lethal’, with such levels ‘associated with seizures’.
Price denied she had taken excessive amounts of painkillers before her journey, claiming someone else had taken painkillers out of the tub, and said her history of suffering epileptic seizures explained why she lost control of her vehicle.
But a jury found her guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, and also causing serious injury by dangerous driving in relation to now ex-boyfriend Mr Tinklin.
Asda lorry driver Mr Dean’s wife Anne said her husband’s death – just days before their 46th wedding anniversary – had been devastating.
She told the court: ‘I totally relied on him and he was my rock. I feel totally lost and empty. He was a wonderful husband, son, father and grandfather.’
The couple’s daughter Kathrine Harris said in a personal impact statement: ‘I know that Cerys did not set out that day to kill my dad.
‘A completely avoidable tragedy – she simply should have known better. I hope that this tragedy will educate. If any good is to come from our loss then this is it.’
John Dye, defending, said a ‘remorseful’ Price had accepted she would never be able to return to her job as an intensive care nurse.
‘It’s a bitter irony she spent her life preventing loss of life to then find herself sat in court after causing death in the circumstances she has,’ he said. ‘She’ll have to live with that for the rest of her life.’
Mr Dye added: ‘She hadn’t knowingly put people at risk. She’s been reckless.’
Judge Michael Fitton QC told Price: ‘You’ve destroyed your good name, your prospects, and brought grief to your own family.
‘You are perfectly capable of addressing the issues in this case to rebuild your life. You are perfectly capable of making yourself a caring, useful member of society as you once aspired to be.
‘You will recover from this. Robert Dean has been denied that opportunity.’
Price, from Brynmawr, South Wales, was sentenced to five years and four months in jail, and disqualified from driving for 64 months.
After the sentence, Kelly Huggins of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘Being a qualified nurse, Cerys Price should have known the dangers of driving after taking these tablets, but she drove nevertheless.’
Gwent Police said Price had shown a ‘flagrant disregard for other road users’ after tests showed she had a concentration of 1,803 micrograms per litre of the painkiller in her system.
Outside court Helen Howell, one of Mr Dean’s three daughters, said: ‘Today is a sad day all around. Two families have been devastated by the use of prescription drugs.
‘If anything can come from today’s sentence it should be an understanding that abusing drugs, even prescription such as Tramadol, and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle destroys lives.’
CPS spokesman Kelly Huggins said: ‘Being a qualified nurse, Cerys Price should have known the dangers of driving after taking these tablets, but she drove nevertheless.
‘Her actions resulted in tragic consequences for an innocent motorist, her passenger and herself.’