A woman who failed to stop following a collision which led to the death of a mother has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Melissa Lewis, pictured below, was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months when she appeared at Weymouth Magistrates Court yesterday.

It comes after she entered a guilty plea at an earlier hearing for failing to stop after a collision in Dorchester just after Christmas last year and failing to report the same incident to police.

Police were unable to determine who was to blame, hence the charges brought against Lewis.


The court heard how pedestrian Erika Prisacaru, 39, died following a collision in The Grove at the junction with School Lane on Wednesday, December 27.

Ms Prisacaru, who has a six-year-old son, was seriously injured in the collision and sadly died in hospital.

Lee Turner prosecuting, said: “The vehicle that struck her was not known immediately afterwards. There were no witnesses that could identify the vehicle involved, which caused the death of the pedestrian.”

CCTV and dashcam enquiries were then made by police officers, who were able to track down a dark-coloured Audi A3 linked to the incident, which was later revealed to be registered to Lewis, aged 48, of Pound Close, Charminster.

It had reportedly been driving northbound, the same direction the car involved in the crash was believed to have travelled, during the same time period.

Mr Turner added: “CCTV enquiries revealed the vehicle which was traced back to Brewery Square and I understand on Thursday, January 4, the defendant was arrested.

“Her phone and iPad were seized along with her vehicle for examination. She was asked if she was involved in the incident and said ‘no’.”

Mr Turner explained that police found marks on Lewis’ car along with ‘pink fibres.’

He added: “These were confirmed as having a strong likelihood of belonging to the deceased woman.”

However, when questioned about the marks by police, Lewis claimed she had been involved with a collision with a deer in September that year. Digital evidence was also collected from Lewis’ phone, which revealed she had been looking at Dorset Police’s press releases following news of their enquiries.

Mr Turner added that Lewis was taking a keen interest.

He said: “The defendant had numerous opportunities to come forward. There were interviews with the defendant, who had the opportunity to accept involvement in the incident.”

Jonathan Morrisey, mitigating, argued that Lewis was not necessarily at fault, because of the sightlines on the evening of the incident.

He told the judge: “Please examine the question of culpability and the psychiatrist report which gives an explanation of how the question of failing to stop at a scene of an accident and failure to report it came into being.”

The court heard that Lewis suffers from a mental health disorder, and often ‘separates herself from reality as a coping mechanism’.

As a result of the lack of witnesses and due to the fact that the victim was crossing the road, police were unable to determine culpability – who was to blame – this is why Lewis faced charges of failing to stop and failing to report, instead of more serious offences.

Lewis was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid community work. She was ordered to pay £300 court costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

District Judge Stephen Nicholls said: “The court extends its sympathies to the family of the deceased.”

After the sentencing, Inspector Joe Pardey, who led the investigation for Dorset Police said: “From my point of view the sentencing shows there’s a clear message – if you fail to stop at a scene of a collision it’s highly likely you will lose your liberty and go to prison.

“We will find you and you will end up in a court room; we are determined to get justice for the victims.”

Dorset Echo:

Melissa Lewis' damaged car

In an update today, Dorset Police said following a thorough investigation and advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, Lewis was not charged in relation to causing the collision as it is believed her view of the road and Miss Prisacaru’s view of her car was blocked by a second vehicle that had pulled out of a junction. 
Inspector Joe Pardey said: “The events of Wednesday 27 December 2017 led to the tragic death of Erika Prisacaru.

“It is clear from the evidence available that the vehicle Lewis was driving and Miss Prisacaru collided with each other. There can be no dispute that Lewis was involved in a collision with the pedestrian as she was crossing the road.

“Melissa Lewis had a lawful duty to stop and remain at the scene. For whatever reason she chose not to. The subsequent investigation into identifying her and her vehicle saw officers working round the clock for seven days. At no time did she make any attempts to come forward.

“It could also be argued that it was morally indefensible that she failed to stop knowing that she had been involved in a serious collision and failed to come forward afterwards.

“I would like to pay tribute to the investigation team and colleagues across the force for their immense determination and professionalism in painstakingly gathering and reviewing evidence until we identified Lewis and her car.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates our commitment and dedication to find and bring people to justice. Our thoughts remain with Miss Prisacaru’s friends and family, particularly her six-year-old son Andrei who is now being cared for by relatives.”