The driver for a girls’ night out stopped her car on a motorway hard shoulder during a row about petrol money with tragic consequences, a court has been told.
Another vehicle came up from behind and, after veering off the carriageway, slammed into the back of the stationary car, a jury heard.
Teenager Chloe Palmer, 19, a passenger in the car which was on the hard shoulder of the M1, suffered a severe brain injury and died days later.
Another friend sitting on the back seat next to Chloe, Maisie O’Flynn suffered serious injuries, but survived the crash.
On Monday, November 30, the driver who made the decision to pull up on the motorway on the way to St Albans in the early hours after a Friday night out clubbing with her friends went on trial.
Christalla Amphlett, now 22, but who was 19 at the time, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of causing the death by dangerous driving of her friend, Chloe, in the early hours of November 25, 2017. (correct)
Opening the case at St Albans Crown Court, prosecutor Wayne Cleaver, told the jury that Miss Amphlett had been as responsible for the collision as the driver of the other vehicle that crashed into her Renault Twingo.
“These are unusual circumstances since, as you will have appreciated, at the time of the collision her car was not moving. Nevertheless, the prosecution case is that she was driving; that driving was dangerous; and it was a contributory cause of the collision,” he said.
He went on: “Miss Amphlett had created dangerous conditions by deliberately stopping the car where she did. Those conditions became increasingly dangerous the longer the car remained there.”
Mr Cleaver said her car had been parked on the northbound hard shoulder of the motorway, just south of Junction 6 at Bricket Wood in Hertfordshire.
He said it was close to the inside lane without any illumination or hazard lights flashing.
Seventeen minutes after stopping on the hard shoulder an Isuzu D-Max driven by Bradley Lane careered off the road and crashed into the rear of the Twingo.
Mr Cleaver told how on Friday November 24, 2017 Miss Amphlett had gone out “clubbing” with a group of girlfriends to the “Hide Out” club in Watford town centre.
Mr Cleaver told the court, “Christalla Amphlett of Symphony Close, Edgware was the “designated driver” and at the end of the evening she was to drive her friends back home.
Those friends, the court was told, were Chloe Palmer, Maisie O’Flynn and Keziah Knight.
They set off from the club in at about 3:30am and headed north up the M1 towards St Albans so that Miss O’Flynn could be dropped off first.
Mr Cleaver said: “On route Christalla and Maisie started arguing about something as trifling as petrol money. Miss Amphlett had agreed to make a detour to St Albans to drop off Maisie and she was low on petrol. The passengers were drunk and were beginning to annoy the driver.
“Such was her irritation that she pulled over onto the hard shoulder of the M1 where she remained at a standstill for a few minutes.”
The journey resumed, but further along the motorway the court was told, the defendant again pulled over onto the hard shoulder and stopped the car after the argument about petrol money had started up again.
He said the car remained stationary on the hard shoulder of the motorway for about 17 minutes.
During that time the court was told the front seat passenger, Kezia Knight then 19, got out of the car and sat on the metal safety barrier.
Chloe and Maisie stayed seated in the back.
The jury then heard the Renault was still stationary on the hard shoulder when Bradley Lane’s vehicle crashed into it it’s rear offside, the same side where Chloe was sitting in the back seat
Mr Cleaver told the jury that stopping the car in that position and in those circumstances was dangerous and her driving had fallen “far below the standard to be expected of a competent and careful driver.”
Maisie O’Flynn sustained injuries, as did Miss Amphlett, but both survived.
Mr Cleaver said the positioning of the defendant’s car on the hard shoulder of the M1 created the conditions which allowed the fatal collision to occur.
He said the badly positioned car with its lights off on a partially unlit section of the motorway meant there was an increased risk of a collision.
The court was told when the defendant was interviewed under caution in August 2018 she gave a prepared statement to the effect that she was the designated driver that night.
She said remembered an argument in the car and thought it would be safer to pull over and went on: “Looking back I don’t believe that my driving was careless or dangerous or that my driving was a cause of the collision”
He said the defendant seemed to be suggesting that there was a genuine emergency necessitating that she had no choice other to stop the car.
“In reality, there was no such emergency. The bickering in the car was of her own making. She took a bad decision to stop where she did without any regard for the potential consequences.”