Teenage drink driver Molly Zoglowek jailed for two years after paralysing Dursley Rugby Club player Rob Camm
A 19-year-old girl whose drunken dangerous driving destroyed a teenaged rugby player's life, leaving him permanently paralysed from the neck down, was jailed for two years today.
Molly Zoglowek, of Leaside Close in Cam was more than twice over the drink drive limit when she decided to give a lift to five men - including 19-year-old Rob Camm.
She knew she was feeling drunk and before driving she made herself sick to try to get rid of some of the alcohol in her body.
But after driving for just one mile she crashed her overloaded Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin and Rob, who was one of two passengers without a seat belt, suffered "catastrophic" injuries.
Academically-gifted, Rob had gained two A* and two A grade A-levels at school and had been on the verge of going to York University to study politics, economics and philosophy when his life was shattered.
Instead, Rob, now 20, is still in hospital seven months after the accident unable to move or even speak and communicating only by blinking.
He relies on a ventilator to breathe and needs two carers with him at all times.
After hearing a moving statement from Rob's mother Gillian about the devastating effect of his injuries, Judge William Hart told Zoglowek: "I hope when you have served your sentence you can rebuild your life. You will find it far easier than Rob Camm will."
Zoglowek, now a sports student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury to Rob by driving dangerously on Dursley Road on September 15 last year.
She also admitted driving with excess alcohol.
Jailing her, Judge Hart paid tribute to Rob for deciding to go on living his life to the full despite “losing 90 per cent of the man he was”.
Despite his condition, Rob has been accepted by Bristol University later this year and wants to continue his education.
"The word tragedy is often used and more often misused by society today," said the judge.
"But it can be applied to this case without question.
"Every young person, indeed every person, who is tempted to drive having drunk to excess - or to be driven by a drunken driver - should hear of this case and never forget its tragic detail.
"Rob Camm suffered a catastrophic injury. He was academically an outstanding student by any measure.
He was an active young sportsman, able, a promising career in terms of employment and sport ahead of him."
The judge said anyone hearing the graphic details of Rob's “trials and tribulations” could not fail to be moved to tears.
"He cannot breathe without a ventilator and that is likely to persist. He cannot speak, although rehabilitation is likely to improve that.
"I suspect most of all he thinks of the man he would have been, the man who, to use his own words, has ninety percent disappeared.
"He was a son to be proud of - and he still is. Indeed it is clear from what his mother has said that the pride his family feels in him is even greater now than it was before this tragedy.
"He has taken the most incredibly positive attitude to his suffering. He has clearly formed the view that there are two ways to go when suffering as he has.
"One way, the way we would go if the same tragedy had befallen us, would be to simply give up and wish it had been death rather than near-death.
"The other way is to make something of what remains. That is what he has done. I suspect those who knew him before are unsurprised by that approach.
"He has been raising money for charity, he wishes to become a mentor for other spinally injured people, already he has spoken to the wife of someone who has similar injuries.
"One of the most tragic aspects is that he still dreams of being able bodied and playing rugby as he did before this happened to him."
The judge said it was clear that Molly Zoglowek was herself “a delightful young woman” of positive good character but anyone feeling sorry for her should think of the consequences for Rob.
Julian Kesner, prosecuting, told the court that Rob had played rugby that day and then attended a party at Dursley RFC to celebrate the club's 60th anniversary.
Afterwards he and others went to Capone's nightclub in Dursley where, at 4.30am, Molly agreed to give the five men a lift. The car had only four seat belts so Rob and one other passenger were without one.
An hour before driving, said Mr Kesner, Molly had told a friend she was drunk and had gone into the toilets and put her fingers down her throat to make herself sick.
Rob Camm had suggested ringing his parents to pick them all up but his cousin Simon Camm, who was also travelling with them, persuaded him to stay out, Mr Kesner said.
"She drove off. We say her driving was erratic and dangerous from the moment she left the Barclays Bank car park in Dursley until she crashed."
On setting off, she sounded the horn of the car for some time. After a fifth of mile she overtook another driver quite fast and he noticed that the car was overcrowded.
He saw her collide with a wall in Kingshill Road. But she disregarded that "warning" and carried on, swerving across the road and clearly not in control, Mr Kesner said.
She turned into Dursley road and on a sweeping bend went off the carriageway onto the grass verge, hitting a lamp post and uprooting it.
The front nearside of the car then hit a mature tree and a bench. The car came to a stop with its windscreen shattered and the pillar pushed backwards and down.
Zoglowek was breathalysed and gave a reading of 72mcgs - just over twice the limit - nearly two hours later.
Interviewed, she claimed to have blacked out while driving and not to have much memory of the crash.
She said she had drunk about five vodkas the night before the crash and about five that night.
Mr Kesner, his voice cracking with emotion, read a statement from Rob's mum who praised his 'indescribable courage' in the face of his problems.
"The day he was due to go to university his mother was teaching him how to spell out his name by blinking and using a letter board," Mr Kesner said.
Rob had written out a personal statement to Bristol University by blinking, showing endless patience, he said.
"He has shown remarkable positive resilience and has his own blog on which he raises money."
Rob still endured great neuropathic pain which is difficult to manage, he said. He has to be strapped into his wheelchair when he suffers violent spasms which rack his whole body.
Mrs Camm said she hopes one day he will be able to return home. He has been supported by the Spinal Injuries Association and has recently taken part in a promotional video for the charity, helping to raise £46,000.
Mrs Camm went on "Our daughter has found it hard to accept that while Rob was unable to go to university, Molly has continued her life, gone to university and attended numerous social events.
“Rob will need his carers to be with him at all times, even through the night."
She added: "I am in awe of my son and my daughter. They have responded so well to the devastating challenges they have endured."
Dermot Clarke, defending, said Zoglowek and Rob had not met before that night but she knew three of the men in her car.
She had been 'easily persuaded' to drive them but did not claim to have been pressurised and accepted full responsibility, he said. She was full of regret and remorse.
Her bad driving had not been prolonged or aggressive and it had not been at excessive speed, he submitted.
He handed the court references for Zoglowek including one from Paul Winterbottom and his wife Sally, chairman of governors of Rednock School.
"She has no intention to drive a car ever again," he concluded.
The Camm family have set up website www.cammpaign4rob.co.uk to let people know of his progress and also about fundraising events to buy the specialist equipment he needs.
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