A nurse who killed a father of eight when she ploughed into him after falling asleep at the wheel has walked free from court.
Gaynor Thomas was driving home from her 50th birthday party when she nodded off and smashed into Dahir Yasin Mohammed – crushing him between his parked car and a tree outside his own house.
Birmingham crown court heard on Tuesday that the crash happened just before 5am after Thomas, a senior matron, had spent the night at a party in her honour at her local church hall.
Mr Mohammed, aged 49, was killed instantly and was found crushed to death by his wife and some of their eight children.
The court was told that he and his childhood sweetheart wife had moved to Birmingham from their native Somalia more than 15 years ago for a “better life” in the UK.
Thomas, 51, of Court Lane, Erdington, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.
After hearing how the accident was a “tragic set of circumstances”, Judge Philip Parker QC said he would not be sending Thomas to prison immediately, but gave her an eight month jail term suspended for a year. She was also banned from driving for three years.
Nicholas Smith, prosecuting, said the crash happened on July 9 in 2017 in Goosemoor Lane, near the junction with Anstey Field, in Erdington.
Mr Mohammed was standing at the back of his parked Mercedes Vito people carrier when Thomas’s Mercedes B220 sport car hit it – forcing it backwards.
He was trapped between his vehicle and a tree and died of multiple injuries.
Neighbours spoke of hearing “a loud bang” and rushed out to see what happened.
One of those was Mr Mohammed’s wife and some of their children.
Mr Smith said: “His wife saw it all – people trying to give her husband CPR and then being told that he was dead at the scene.”
Thomas was interviewed and at first claimed she had swerved to avoid something which had run out in front of her.
But an analysis of her car and the accident scene found no evidence or swerving or braking.
“A police collision investigator concluded that it was consistent with her having fallen asleep at the wheel and her car drifting into the parked vehicle at about 38mph,” Mr Smith said.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Mohammed’s widow, Nasteha Siad, told how the couple had moved to the UK from Somalia in the early 2000s in the hope of “safety, more opportunities for their children and a better life”.
They had eight children, the youngest being five and two of the eldest ones had gained places at university, one was studying medicine and the other engineering, but the grief of losing his father had made him drop out.
She said her husband “lived for his family” and was the sole breadwinner, working hard to provide for them all.
“The image of my husband lying on the floor with our children screaming for help will be a scene that will be forever engraved on my memory,” she said.
She also told how because it happened right outside their house, they had a daily reminder of the tragedy.
Malcolm Galloway, defending, said Thomas had 31 years nursing experience and was a senior matron working in the community.
On the day of the accident she had been celebrating her 50th birthday at her church’s hall and stayed behind to help clear up afterwards and was in the car with her son and nephew.
“She had not drunk any alcohol and was not tired at all – she is a nurse so is used to working long hours,” he said.
“She had a micro sleep and drifted into the other car.”
Mr Galloway gave the court more than 20 testimonials and references from members of the community, church and medical profession.
She is currently off work and is also being investigated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and could lose her job because of this conviction, he said.
Imposing the sentence, Judge Parker said: “I cannot conceive of a more tragic set of circumstances like this where the lives of two good and worthy people collide with such devastating consequences.”