‘No sentence can undo what has been done’

Johnathan Hobden pictured outside Lewes Crown Court at a previous hearing
Johnathan Hobden pictured outside Lewes Crown Court at a previous hearing

A MAN whose trailer hit an Eastbourne policewoman leaving her critically ill in a coma, has avoided prison after pleading guilty to dangerous driving.

Sergeant Wendy Dowman, who was left fighting for her life after the September accident, is kept alive through a breathing tube and has to be fed by hospital staff.

A former pupil at Cavendish School, Sgt Dowman was airlifted to hospital after the Saab convertible she was driving collided with a trailer that had become detached from Jonathan Hobden’s Land Rover which was travelling in the opposite direction.

Miss Dowman’s passenger, her mother, who is in her 60s, was also seriously injured in the crash near Hellingly.

At Lewes Crown Court on Thursday March 24, passing sentence, the recorder, Mr Humphrey Malins, said Hobden, 39, of Herstmonceux, had shown remorse after his trailer ploughed into Sgt Dowman’s convertible on the A267 at Wellshurst.

He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £1,500 in court costs and was banned from driving for 18 months.

Mr Malins said Hobden was a man of good character whose behaviour had been “impeccable” after the accident, and that the defendant had many good qualities and was a well respected, devoted family man and father.

He added, “No sentence can compensate or undo what has been done.”

The Crown Prosecution Service’s case centred around the condition of Hobden’s 14ft Williams trailer and the way it was attached to his Land Rover on the day of the accident.

At an earlier hearing on March 4, the court heard how the results of the accident had been “catastrophic” for the policewoman, who had remained unconscious ever since.

Prosecuting, Amy Packham told the court that the safety pin on Hobden’s trailer had two fixings, including a spring-loaded locking device which was not working properly when the crash took place. Ms Packham told the court that Hobden became aware some time during the journey that the safety pin wasn’t there.

“He had an opportunity to stop but didn’t. The crown accepts that,” she said.