Key witness misses disabled girlfriend's inquest

First published in News by

A GWENT man who failed to attend his disabled ex-girlfriend’s inquest, despite being a key witness, could face arrest if he fails to turn up again.

Robert Wallace is a key witness to the inquest, after the car he was driving hit his ex-partner, Claire Southern, in Risca on July 4, 2009, the inquest in Hampshire was told.

The coroner's court heard how Ms Southern, who lived in Winchester, was left severely disabled after the incident, during which she suffered serious head and internal injuries, and died last year.

Mr Wallace received his formal summons to the inquest at the court in Hampshire but told an official on the morning of Tuesday, August 19, he was in Gwent and unable to attend the case.

The hearing was told that Gwent police said at the time Wallace, then 55, had been at the wheel when his van was in collision with Ms Southern in the driveway of his home in Navigation Road, Risca at about 6.20pm.

The incident left her severely disabled, only able to walk with crutches and suffering from depression.

Coroner Grahame Short told the inquest Mr Wallace was in contempt of court and would be resummoned.

He added that failure to comply and appear at a rescheduled hearing could result in him being arrested and appearing before a High Court judge.

Mr Short said Mr Wallace was interviewed three times by Gwent Police after Ms Southern died: “He answered questions the first time, the following two he gave no comment.

“He then produced a prepared statement which he gave to police.”

Ms Southern's GP, Dr Julie Rushen said: “Claire was a very unwell lady, who struggled with day-to-day activity due to her chronic pain.”

Ms Southern eventually died on June 7, 2013 from massive organ failure after contracting pneumonia.

The 38-year-old was transferred from the Royal Hampshire County Hospital to King's College Hospital, London, for her final days in a desperate bid by doctors to save her life.

Consultant pathologist Dr Jon Salisbury said the injuries she sustained from being run over would have contributed to her eventual death.

He said: “The disability from the road traffic incident would make her more likely to get the pneumonia in the first place.”

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