Drink-drive accident victim speaks out

THESE are the horrific injuries inflicted upon Shotley bar manager Vikki Coxon by a speeding drink driver who drifted onto the wrong side of the road and ploughed into her.

THESE are the horrific injuries inflicted upon Shotley bar manager Vikki Coxon by a speeding drink driver who drifted onto the wrong side of the road and ploughed into her.

With both legs in plaster, a metal pin screwed into her right arm, a fractured pelvis and extensive physical and emotional scars, the 24-year-old's life is in tatters.

She is confined to a bed except for a few rare excursions in a wheelchair and doctors can not tell her if she will ever walk properly again.

Today Kerri Mills, the Ipswich drink driver who drove into Miss Coxon, has the threat of jail hanging over her but Miss Coxon says she is already serving a sentence of her own.

From her parent's Gate Farm Road home in Shotley Gate, she said: “It has completely turned my life upside down just for the sake of her having a drink and driving home.”

The horror story comes as The Evening Star prepares to launch its annual drink driving awareness campaign on December 1. The Name and Shame campaign exposes every drink driver over the Christmas and New Year period.

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Miss Coxon was half way through the 20-minute walk to her home in Main Road in the village with her boyfriend Craig Morley, 33, and two friends after a night at the nearby Bristol Arms pub when Mills' Vauxhall Astra, which was not fit for the road, slammed into her from behind.

Mills, 28, of Wellesley Road, confessed to drink driving, careless driving and driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition when she appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court yesterday.

She cried in the dock as District Judge David Cooper warned she could be jailed when she returns for sentencing next month.

He told her: “It was a miracle she wasn't killed.”

Today Miss Coxon told of her struggle toward recovery as she warned drink drivers: “Look what you can do - look what happens.”

Miss Coxon was thrown on to the windscreen of Mills' Astra and carried 30ft before being flung on to the road on August 27. Her left leg snapped in two places, while her right leg suffered severe ligament damage.

Her right arm was broken and she is now unable to fully extend it. She needed a blood transfusion, 42 staples and 37 stitches and spent six weeks in Ipswich Hospital.

The former Holbrook High student, who works at The Shipwreck pub in Shotley, said: “I remember the thud of the car hitting me. I was thrown up into the air but I don't remember that.

“I remember hitting the road. I knew it was bad because I could feel the blood coming out of my legs.

“It took them seven hours to stabilise me in the A&E. I had eight hours of surgery that day.

“They're thinking I'll need to use a wheelchair for up to a year.”

Her parents David, 62, and Diana Coxon, 60, are caring for her and Mr Coxon, a lecturer at University College Suffolk, is taking early retirement to be there for her.

The family today praised the medical staff who cared for Miss Coxon.

She said: “I feel I was lucky. I'm still alive, I could have been paralysed, I could have had a major brain injury.

“The ambulance drivers, the A&E team and the staff on Needham ward were all brilliant.”

n Have you been a victim of a drink driver? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

KERRI Mills was more than twice the legal alcohol limit when she got behind the wheel to drive back to Ipswich on August 27.

She had been drinking at lunch, had a drink at a pub that night in Shotley Gate with a friend who had been celebrating his birthday and was drunk himself, and also drank some wine.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard that when she was breath tested police found she had 171milligrammes of alcohol in 100millitres of blood. The legal limit is 80milligrammes.

They also found the tyre pressure on all four wheels of the Astra was below the required standard and the car's shock absorbers were defective - undermining its ability to stop suddenly.

Lesla Small, prosecuting, told the court Vikki Coxon was walking beside a friend in a wheelchair at the side of the road when Mills, who works in the catering industry, drove on the wrong side at 42mph in a 30mph zone and hit her at about 1.40am.

“The vehicle being driven by Miss Mills was coming from behind so the victim was hit in the back,” she said.

She said the weather was dry, driving conditions were good and a full moon had helped improve visibility.

Diana Infanti, mitigating for Mills, who has a six-year-old son, said she was “devastated” by her actions.

She said: “She is sorry. She doesn't care if she ever drives again, she's not had a drop of alcohol since.

“She has had a very sad six months. She was suffering from depression and has actually now been referred to counselling.”

She said that Mills had put the Astra through an MOT not long before the accident and was unaware of its faults.

Mills was released on unconditional bail to return to court on November 13 for sentencing. She was given an interim driving ban.

DISTRICT judge David Cooper hit out at drink drivers during Kerri Mills' court appearance, saying he could not believe anyone could ignore the warnings.

As he warned Mills she could be jailed, he said: “It defies belief that people still drink and drive after all these years, all these warnings.

“(This case) does illustrate the horrors of drinking and driving - as if it needed illustrating.

“Drink driving laws have been in force now for 35 years. It is just so extraordinary that people will do it.”

And Suffolk police warned drink drivers would not get away with their crimes on the back of Mills' guilty pleas.

Chief Inspector Martin Barnes-Smith, from Suffolk police's roads policing unit, said: “Our thoughts go out to the victim in this case.

“They have done the right thing - they've gone to the pub, had a drink and walked home. Her life has been changed disastrously by the acts of a drink driver.

“It is totally unacceptable to drink and drive. There is absolutely no excuse.

“The chances of people getting caught nowadays are greater than they ever have been. No longer is it acceptable to make that choice.”

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