A woman who didn’t know she was pregnant suffered a miscarriage after she fell from the bonnet of her car while her friend was driving in a “practical joke gone wrong”.
Megan Meredith, 22, broke her ankle and her knee when she was flung off her own blue Ford Ka in Bargoed, Wales, on 22 March last year.
Her friend, Keeley Harrison, 20, had jumped behind the wheel as part of a practical joke, and kept driving even when Meredith jumped on the bonnet in an attempt to stop her.
She fell from the car after it travelled along Upper High Street for a number of yards at a speed of between 25km/h and 30km/h, Cardiff Crown Court heard on Monday (local time).
Ms Harrison initially claimed both parties were responsible but later pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
She was sentenced to 18 months detention in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for 18 months.
Ms Harrison got into the driver’s seat of the car while Ms Meredith went to put rubbish in a bin, leaving the key in the ignition.
She locked the doors while two other friends were in the back seat.
Ms Harrison said she intended to play a “practical joke” by driving the car around the corner, but Ms Meredith jumped on the bonnet.
With her friend on the front of the car, she kept driving before braking abruptly, causing Ms Meredith to fall to the ground.
She sustained a broken right ankle and broken right tibia which required surgery at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, where it was discovered she was pregnant.
However as a result of her treatment, including five hours of surgery, she suffered a miscarriage.
Ms Meredith spent two weeks in hospital and was forced to take six months off work. Doctors have told her that her leg may never fully recover.
In a victim personal statement read out in court, Ms Meredith said the incident came as a "complete shock" and left her "devastated”, having considered Harrison to be a friend.
Prank gone wrong ‘ruined by life’
"This incident has ruined my life and I am worried about the future, my leg function and employment,” she said.
"I'm not the person I was before and I don't think I'll ever be the same person again. I now have to live with these injuries for the rest of my life."
The sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court heard Ms Meredith picked up Ms Harrison and two other friends and parked in Upper High Street while the group bought some cakes.
Ms Meredith left the keys in the ignition while taking rubbish to a nearby bin, but when she looked back she saw Harrison in the driver’s seat and found the doors were locked from the inside.
Prosecutor Nigel Fryer said the car started to roll backwards and Ms Meredith leant on the bonnet and asked the woman to not to drive the car.
“There was laughing and joking in the vehicle. She also believed they were filming her on a phone,” Mr Fryer said.
“She felt the car move forward and was gripping on to the car to try and stop herself from falling. The defendant pulled out of the parking space while she was still on the bonnet and she accelerated up Upper High Street with Ms Meredith's legs dangling down.
“She felt the car was being driven fast and she tried to grab hold of the windscreen wipers but she fell off the front of the car on to her right-hand side.
“She felt confused initially and didn't know if she had passed out but when she tried to get up she described feeling horrific pain in her right leg.”
Ms Meredith said the defendant and her friends didn't believe she had broken her ankle and told her to get up. The court heard the pair are no longer friends.
Defence barrister Jenny Yeo said said it was “a tragic case for all concerned”.
My client takes full responsibility for her stupidity and her actions,” she said.
Sentencing Judge Jeremy Jenkins said Ms Harrison’s thoughts of causing injury were the “last thing” on her mind”.
“I have no doubt, but you have acknowledged how dangerous and foolish your actions were,” he said.
As well as the suspended sentence, Ms Harrison was also banned from driving for two years and was ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and to pay A$1065 in costs.
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