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Road-rage driver 'depressed when she hit cyclist'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 25, 2012

AN Ammanford motorist was suffering from clinical depression when she knocked a cyclist off his bike in an incident of road rage, a court was told.

The mental health of Victoria Elizabeth Williams was described where she avoided a custodial sentence at Swansea Crown Court.

Williams said after the Pontlliw incident that she had merely been trying to scare the cyclist.

The 26-year-old mother-of- three, of Brynamman Road, Lower Brynamman, pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving when the case against her began at Swansea Crown Court.

The prosecution case, said barrister Christopher James, was that Williams had used her car as a weapon.

It was driving that fell "far below the standard expected of a reasonable, careful and competent driver".

Williams was unanimously found guilty by a jury on March 1.

Williams was made the subject of a 12-month community order and told to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for the community.

She was also ordered to receive outpatient psychiatric treatment after the court heard she had been suffering from — and still suffers from — clinical depression.

The provisional driving licence holder was further banned from the road for 12 months.

Giving evidence, complainant Gary Marshall told the court that on August 15, 2010, he and his wife, Debbie, went out for a ride on their bikes.

They were cycling on the A48 Swansea Road through Pontlliw when a Volvo 440 passed them, driven by Williams and containing her husband and children as passengers.

Suddenly, a plastic bottle was thrown from the Volvo by the defendant's husband, striking Mr Marshall on the arm.

Mr Marshall gesticulated and swore, demanding: "What are you playing at?"

Williams's husband then got out of the vehicle and there was a stand-off between the two men in which words were exchanged.

"I wanted to know why he had thrown a bottle at me," said Mr Marshall.

Mr Marshall said he decided to carry on with his journey after Debbie Marshall told him: "He's not worth it."

As he passed the Volvo, Mr Marshall remarked to Williams in the driver's seat: "You're as bad as he is."

When he was 20ft in front of the Volvo, he heard the car driving towards him and he stopped and turned round to see that was happening.

His bike was then struck by the car and he was knocked off it.

"Before I knew it, half of my body, up to my waist, was underneath the car," said Mr Marshall.

"I was in a state of complete and utter shock and disbelief."

The court heard that Mr Marshall suffered injuries to his knees, side and arm in the incident and his bike was a complete write-off.

Interviewed after her arrest, the court heard, Williams claimed her purpose had been to scare Mr Marshall, not to hit him.

She claimed he had sworn in front of her children, who were in the back of the car.

She denied her driving had been dangerous but conceded it had been careless

Giving evidence, Williams claimed that when Mr Marshall braked she was too close to stop.

The collision had been unintentional, she said, and she had not used her car as a weapon.

Frank Phillips, in mitigation, told the court: "The loss of her good character is likely to be a significant punishment in itself.

"She concedes that this incident must have had frightening and distressing effect on Mr Marshall and his wife."

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