Driver who ‘fell asleep at the wheel’ jailed after aspiring actress, 16, killed in Northchapel collision

Rosie Roebuck, 16, from Chiddingfold in Surrey. Photo: Sussex Police
Rosie Roebuck, 16, from Chiddingfold in Surrey. Photo: Sussex Police

A driver who reportedly fell asleep at the wheel has been jailed after his car collided head-on with another vehicle in Northchapel, killing an aspiring actress, aged 16.

Emergency services were called to the A283 at Northchapel, near Petworth, about 5.23pm on 9 July 2018, police said.

A blue Peugeot 508, travelling southbound, had failed to negotiate a left-hand bend and crossed into the opposite carriageway where it struck a white Volkswagen Golf head-on, according to police.

Investigations revealed the Peugeot had been travelling at approximately 43mph in the 30mph zone and no brakes had been applied prior to the collision, police said.

A rear seat passenger in the Volkswagen – 16-year-old Rosie Roebuck, from Chiddingfold in Surrey – sustained serious injuries and sadly died the next day.

She had been travelling home from a day at the beach with her mother, sister and boyfriend – who were all treated for serious injuries – when the tragic incident occurred, confirmed police.

The Peugeot driver was identified as Daniel Scales, an IT worker, of George V Avenue, Worthing, who also sustained serious injuries and was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting for treatment.

He told witnesses at the scene that he had been driving home from work that day, having left early because he felt tired, and said he must have fallen asleep at the wheel, police said.

The 49-year-old was subsequently interviewed via voluntary attendance, and charged with causing death by dangerous driving, confirmed police.

Scales pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday 20 September, and was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment, of which he must serve a minimum of 14 months, said police.

He was also disqualified from driving for 38 months and ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge.

His Honour Judge Ashworth, in sentencing, acknowledged Scales’ early guilty plea, his previous good character, and ‘clear and genuine remorse’ at causing the death of Rosie Roebuck, said police.

He added: “It is accepted that this is a case of dangerous driving where you deliberately drove, knowing you were deprived of adequate rest, and aggravated by travelling above the speed limit in a 30mph limit.

“If the accident had been at a lower speed the consequences would have been less.

“A family, friends and community have suffered the loss of Rosie Roebuck, whom her mother described as a caring, intuitive, clever and talented 16-year-old with a promising future ahead of her.”

‘Desperately missed by many’

In a victim impact statement, Rosie’s family added: “We are so proud of what Rosie had achieved in her 16 short years, and of the fun-loving, life-embracing, go-getting young woman she was.

“From the many messages we received, it is clear how well thought of she was and how many lives she touched.

“Rosie had an undeniable presence, a stunning smile, and is desperately missed by many, a lot of whom feel lost and alone without her.

“Rosie was an aspiring actress and participated in numerous productions for her school, Churt Amateur Dramatic Society (CADS) and The Tilbourne Players.

“In her memory, we have set up the Rosie Roebuck Performing Arts Foundation – a charity which will provide funding for young performers to fulfil their dreams.”

Find out more about the foundation and donate to the cause here.

‘The consequences of driving whilst tired can be devastating’

Investigating officer Tony Crisp, of the Sussex Police Serious Collision Investigations Unit, said: “This was a terrible and tragic collision which has affected families and communities alike, but one that could have been avoided.

“Many drivers may feel the pressure to get to their destination even when fatigued, but driving when you are tired is dangerous and seriously increases the risk of having a collision.

“Make sure you are fit to drive at the beginning of your journey and have had adequate rest.

“If you are feeling the effects of fatigue whilst you are driving, this is the warning sign to find a safe place to stop and take a break.

“Do not continue until you are fit and alert.

“As this crash demonstrates, the consequences of driving whilst tired can be devastating.”

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