A CYCLIST struck by a hit-and-run driver who had been drinking Jäger bombs and strong lager before the crash delivered a moving impact statement about the devastating impact it has had on her life.

NHS physiotherapist Caroline James was nearly killed when Louise Griffiths ploughed into her as she was training for a triathlon with three other riders, her boyfriend Martin Burrows, her sister Katherine Barnes – who is a doctor – and brother-in-law Gerald Barnes.

Gareth James, prosecuting, told Newport Crown Court: “It was very fortunate for Caroline that Katherine is a doctor who works as a registrar and Gerald is in the military where he has received medical training to deal with battlefield casualties.


“When they found Caroline, they had to resuscitate her as she had stopped breathing and they could not find a pulse.

“Katherine later helped the emergency services to administer lifesaving roadside treatment to her sister.”

South Wales Argus:

Grandmother Griffiths, a 46-year-old hairdresser, of Beddick, Greenmeadow, Cwmbran, was jailed for 27 months and banned from driving for five years and one month by Judge Daniel Williams.

She pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and dangerous driving on a country road at Llanllowell, near Usk, just after 4pm on the afternoon of Sunday, February 3.

Miss James suffered life-threatening injuries that have left her with significant nerve damage to her right leg.

She can now only walk with the aid of a splint on her right leg and crutches.

Mr James delivered a powerful victim impact statement on behalf of Miss James, who did not attend court for Griffiths’ sentencing.

She said: “The actions of the defendant have completely changed my life. Prior to the defendant hitting me with their car, I was a very active and athletic individual, participating in some form of sport or exercise every day, training for and competing in sporting events.

South Wales Argus:

“The day I was hit by the defendant’s car I was training for an upcoming triathlon with my boyfriend, sister and brother-in-law.

“I have always loved sport and exercise, particularly running, cycling and swimming, and even chose a career requiring a great degree of physicality.

“I loved my job as a physiotherapist and have worked hard to establish a career within the NHS.

“Following the incident on Sunday, February 3, this year I was admitted to the (University Hospital of Wales) in Cardiff, the same hospital at which I have worked as a physiotherapist for the last eight years.

“For the initial period of my hospital admission I was critically unwell and required intensive treatment from doctors, nursing staff and physiotherapists.

“It was devastating to find myself a patient on the same ward on which I was employed, being treated by my own colleagues.

“While I feel fortunate to have received such wonderful care, it causes me great distress to know that my colleagues, many of whom are close friends, saw me at my worst and carried out various invasive and personal procedures on me.

South Wales Argus:

“After the incident I spent over three months in hospital, including a period of time spent on a ventilator in intensive care.

“Due to the multitude and complexity of my injuries I underwent numerous operations to my neck, pelvis and leg and I am likely to require further surgery.

“Waking up to find myself in this state was the most surreal experience of my life, something I would not wish on anybody and I am still coping with the shock and realisation of what has happened to me.

“In the accident my kidneys were badly damaged by the impact of the vehicle and at one stage I was informed they may never recover.

“Having spent several weeks on dialysis, which was an excruciating experience requiring a high level of pain medication, the prospect of a prolonged period of dialysis was incredibly distressing.

“I am fortunate that my kidneys have recovered but many of my other injuries have not and will not recover so fully.

“I am still receiving intensive daily physiotherapy as I have significant nerve damage. I have lost the movement and feeling in my right leg and now have to use crutches and a splint on my leg to enable me to walk.

South Wales Argus:

“When I do attempt to walk, I am unable to move quickly and cannot sustain prolonged periods of movement.

“I am determined to strengthen my leg as much as possible and will continue with physiotherapy and exercise to maximise my movement.

“However, I have been informed that I will never regain normal movement or feeling in my leg and I will never be able to return to the sports and activities that I loved.

“My movement is further restricted by pain. I experience severe nerve pain every day and have been told that this is something I will need to manage for the rest of my life.

“The trauma of the incident, as well as the multiple surgeries and procedures, has left my leg badly scarred and disfigured.

“I am extremely self-conscious of this and find myself getting distressed if I think it has been noticed or if attention is drawn to it. I hope that this feeling will fade with time.

“Sadly, this is just one of the emotional impacts of the incident that I am currently aware of.

“While I am lucky enough to have no memories of that day, I have found it incredibly difficult to process the fact that another human being could make such selfish decisions, that would ultimately cause irreparable damage.

“That I could be left on the side of the road with such severe injuries, caused by the actions of another person, is unimaginable to me. I think about this every day.

“The thing I find most difficult is thinking about the future and not knowing how the future will look for me.

“I am a young woman who had a whole life and career ahead of me and I had many plans that are now unlikely to be achievable.

“I certainly won’t be able to return to the job I loved. I find myself getting emotional most days.

“I have always been a very independent individual, but I now require assistance and support with various aspects of everyday life.

“I hate to feel a burden on anyone and hate that I have been put in this situation – it just seems so unfair.

“I love to travel and already I worry I will not have the confidence or ability to enjoy trips abroad anymore.

“I have reduced mobility, I cannot drive or participate in sports, I cannot do my job and I may always be in debilitating pain.

“There are still a lot of ‘unknowns’ and I find this both frustrating and depressing every single day.

“This event has had an unimaginable impact on my life and although no penalty can compensate for my, or my family’s physical and mental losses, I feel that it is important that somebody is held accountable for their actions.

“I now know first hand that driving dangerously and irresponsibly can have catastrophic and permanent consequences.

“My life was changed forever when I was hit by that car and although I’m lucky to be alive, it’s very important to me that this dangerous driver is punished so that no one else need suffer the way I have and will continue to for the rest of my life.”