Driver with epilepsy jailed over death crash

Philip Chapman
Image caption Philip Chapman crashed into four cars while having a seizure at the wheel

A driver with a history of epilepsy caused the death of a woman by playing "Russian roulette" with his condition, police have said.

Philip Chapman, 56, from Rayleigh, Essex, was jailed for six years after crashing into four cars in Southend while having an epileptic seizure.

Linda Brooks, 68, was fatally injured and three others, including a two-year-old child, were seriously hurt.

Chapman admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

He also pleaded guilty to three charges of causing grievous bodily harm.

Insp Damon Bainbridge, of Essex Police, said: "Philip Chapman had a serious medical condition but was self employed and felt he needed to drive.

Strict rules

"He was in fact playing Russian roulette as he could have become ill at any time.

"Sadly, when he did, this resulted in Mrs Brooks' death and serious injuries to a number of other people.

"He will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life."

Van driver Chapman was sentenced to six years in jail and banned from driving for life at Thursday's sentencing hearing at Basildon Crown Court.

The crash happened on Sutton Road, in Southend, on 15 September last year.

Mrs Brooks, from Hockley, Essex, died in hospital two weeks after the crash.

Chapman had not told the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about the full extent of his condition.

A spokeswoman for the charity Epilepsy Action said there were strict rules for drivers diagnosed with epilepsy.

"It is against the law for people with epilepsy who have seizures to drive unless their seizures occur only during sleep," she said.

"All drivers with a diagnosis of epilepsy must inform the DVLA. People with epilepsy who have been seizure free for one year can drive.

"However, all drivers have a legal obligation to inform the DVLA if they have a seizure and they must stop driving. They can apply or reapply for a driving licence as long as they have been free from seizures completely for one year."

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