The drunk driver who killed her friend in a head-on collision with a National Express coach as she fell asleep at the wheel has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Rajanee Brown, 26, was caught on camera ordering double and triple measures of rum at an Enfield nightclub in the hours leading up to her drive through London with Aliyah Roach, 22, in the back seat.
Kingston Crown Court heard that Brown had been awake for more than 20 hours when the VW Polo she was driving headed for an oncoming coach at 4:20 a.m., causing a fireball crash.
Ms Roach, the mother of a seven-year-old son and an elementary school assistant, was thrown forward and died from injuries sustained in the crash on December 22, 2019.
Brown tried to blame the accident on the innocent coach driver, but Judge Stephen John said, far from guilty, his actions in slamming the brakes had likely saved Brown’s life.
Sentencing her to three years in prison, the judge said, âI am completely satisfied that you drank a lot more than you claimed and that the drink and lack of sleep made you fall asleep.
âBy your actions that day you deprived a loving family of their daughter. Aliyah has a seven-year-old son, and he will soon be spending his third Christmas without his mother.
The accident happened near Chelsea Bridge in Battersea, one night when Brown had been the “designated driver” for her friend.
Just after 1 a.m. Brown was seen on nightclub CCTV ordering two glasses of rum from the bar in quick succession, the court heard.
Ms Roach had to help her friend stand sometimes during the night, while Brown was also seen as “visibly drowsy”.
She had been awake since 8 a.m. the day before, but was still driving the car through London when she repeatedly exceeded the speed limit.
“You suddenly veered into the opposite lane, causing a collision with a National Express coach,” said the judge, describing the fatal crash.
âYour friend Aliyah Roach was the only passenger in your car, sitting in the back but without a seat belt. She was thrown forward and suffered fatal injuries.
The court heard Brown claimed to have tried to save her friend, but CCTV footage showed other people rushed to her rescue.
âCalling the word ‘baby’ does not equate to assistance on the scene,â the judge said.
Some of the coach passengers
– along with Brown herself – were injured in the collision, but Judge John praised the coach driver’s quick decision to brake to save their lives.
Tests showed Brown had three times the drink-driving limit at the time of the crash.
The victim’s father, Ian Roach, told Brown she had “caused immeasurable damage” to Ms Roach’s family and friends, and left his grandson with “pain and loss for life” .
âYou were prepared to choose the instinct of self-preservation over showing signs of humility,â he told her.
âLucky for you, you survived and all we have left are memories, pictures, old camcorder recordings, old voicemails and texts.
âNothing will bring Aliyah back. I can only encourage you to look within yourself to truly appreciate the damage you have done.
Alicia Walters, Mrs Roach’s mother, told the court she was ready to forgive Brown despite “excruciating pain” over the loss of her daughter.
âIf you were such a good friend of Aliyah – as you claim – why drag her family to hell and back for almost two years,â she said of Brown’s decision to challenge the charge at trial.
âHave you ever thought about the devastation and destruction you have brought to my family? “
Brown, of Balham, denied but was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
After the conviction, the judge had to tell Brown to go to the cells, âDo you want to come down? “, did he declare. “This is not a social occasion.”
Brown will be banned from driving for the next four and a half years and will have to take an extended test to get his license back.