Wimbledon school crash: Families of two girls killed by 4x4 driver criticise CPS decision to not bring charges

No charges will be brought against a driver who knocked down and killed two children outside a prep school in Wimbledon, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced.

The decision has been criticised by the girls’ families, while the woman who crashed into them expressed her “deepest sorrow” and said the incident “will be with me for the rest of my life”.

Nuria Sajjad and fellow eight-year-old pupil Selena Lau died after the crash at The Study Prep school in Wimbledon, south-west London, on July 6 last year.

They and their classmates had been having an end-of-term picnic outside when the driver’s 4×4 crashed through a fence and collided with a building.

Several others were injured in the tragedy.

A woman was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, and released under investigation.

On Wednesday, almost a year on from the incident, the CPS said it had decided not to prosecute the driver, named as Claire Freemantle, as it revealed she had had an epileptic seizure at the wheel. It was understood to be her first seizure, and she had no pre-existing diagnosis.

The 4×4 pictured at the scene last year (PA Archive)
The 4×4 pictured at the scene last year (PA Archive)

Responding to the CPS’s decision, the girls’ families said in a joint statement: “We remain unconvinced that the investigation has been conducted thoroughly.

“We remain unconvinced that the CPS have reached a decision based on all the facts. Justice has neither been done, nor has been seen to be done today.

“Nuria and Selena deserved better.”

In a statement to the PA news agency, Ms Freemantle expressed her “deepest sorrow” and said she had “no recollection of what took place” after losing consciousness.

“Since I became aware of the terrible event that took place on July 6, the devastating consequences for all those affected have not left my thoughts and will be with me for the rest of my life,” she said.

“I have since been diagnosed as having suffered an epileptic seizure with loss of consciousness. This was not a pre-existing condition. As a result of losing consciousness I have no recollection of what took place.

“I can only express my deepest sorrow for the families who have suffered such dreadful loss and injury.

Tributes left outside Study Preparatory School in Wimbledon, last July (PA Wire)
Tributes left outside Study Preparatory School in Wimbledon, last July (PA Wire)

“As a mother, I understand there can be no words that adequately express the pain and loss resulting from what happened in those horrendous moments while I was unconscious.

“My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of the children and families affected, and especially to the parents of Nuria Sajjad and Selena Lau.”

Jaswant Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor with oversight of the CPS London Homicide Unit, described it as a “complex” case.

"The death of a child is an unthinkable tragedy for any parent. On behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to both bereaved families who have suffered the devastating loss of their children, Nuria and Selena,” she said.

"We have carefully considered this complex and sensitive case, taking into consideration all the material gathered as part of the lengthy and detailed police investigation.

"The driver of the vehicle had an epileptic seizure behind the wheel, which caused her to lose control of the vehicle which then drove into the school. There is no evidence the driver had ever suffered a similar seizure before and she had no previously diagnosed medical condition.

"Because there is nothing to suggest the driver could have done anything to predict or prevent this tragedy, it is not in the public interest to pursue a criminal prosecution."

Trevor Sterling, lawyer for the families, said: “This is disappointing; justice must not only be done, but seen to be done.

“In the absence of a process, how do we interrogate the evidence? What does this message send to the public that deaths can arise in a road traffic situation, and there could be no sanction because there is no process to interrogate the evidence?

“The next focus will be on the inquest, and there will be a deep and thorough review of the evidence, which will be examined by a jury if necessary.”

Nuria Sajjad, eight, and her mother Smera Chohan had been taking a photograph together at the preparatory school in Wimbledon when they were hit (THIS MORNING)
Nuria Sajjad, eight, and her mother Smera Chohan had been taking a photograph together at the preparatory school in Wimbledon when they were hit (THIS MORNING)

Nuria’s family said in April they had been living in “horror” as they waited for the police case to finally be resolved.

Her mother, Smera Chohan, said: "Occasions have come and gone in the last 10 months from Christmas to new year to Ramadan to Eid to Mother's Day to her ninth birthday.

"And we have lived through all of those without knowing how or why our daughter was killed. This is how much time has passed. This is unacceptable and it's a horror that we live in."

Nuria’s parents previously described her as “the light of our lives”. “She embodied joy, kindness and generosity and she was loved by all around her,” they said.

Nuria and her mother had been taking a photograph outside the school when the 4x4 came careering through the gates.

Recalling the moment to BBC London, Mrs Chohan told how she wakes every morning wondering “Could I have picked her up and done something?”

“I didn't see the car come,” she said. “I didn't save my girl.” “We are not coping,” she added.

Selena was remembered by her family as “an intelligent and cheeky girl adored and loved by everyone”.

Her parents Franky and Jessie Lau told Talk TV in an emotional interview in February they wanted “answers” and “justice” following the tragedy.

“We replay that day in our head every day, and was there anything we could have done to make that not happen?” said Mr Lau.

Mrs Lau added: “It comes flashing back every day...every night...how much I wish that was me lying there, not her. I wish I could just swap with her. I’d pay anything that I have to have her back.”