Speeding driver who killed horse and injured ‘distraught’ teenage rider jailed

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A speeding driver who killed a horse and injured its teenage rider has been jailed.

David John Kobetic approached Charlotte Pickett and her horse in an Audi TT at speed before ploughing into them.

Both Miss Pickett and her horse Archie were thrown into the air before partially landing on the car and then onto the road.

The horse died from its injuries leaving Miss Pickett “distraught” and feeling lucky to be alive herself

Kobetic was travelling on Heol Simonston in the Coity area of Bridgend on the evening of March 27, 2020 at speeds of between 50mph and 60mph, despite there being a 30mph limit on the road.

Miss Pickett, 16 at the time, was riding her beloved horse Archie and returning him to a stable where he was kept at a local farm.

When she neared the farm, at around 7.05pm in the evening, she called her father to let him know of her imminent return.

As she got nearer she could see her father, and having checked the road for traffic herself, waited for her father to beckon her across a junction.

Having crossed she then heard a vehicle behind her.

The car, an Audi TT, driven by Kobetic, previously of Trem y Castell, Bridgend, approached Miss Pickett and her horse at speed before ploughing into them.

Kobetic, aged 52, appeared via video link at Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday, having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.

Prosecuting, Richard Ace said: “The driver was seen looking down and was not paying attention to the road.

“Miss Pickett was waving her hand to try to get him slow down.

“He did not and ploughed into the back of the horse, which went up into the air.

“Miss Pickett was thrown off and landed on the car and then onto the floor.

“She was not sure whether she lost consciousness but remembers seeing her horse Archie staggering up the road.

“Before she could phone the police the driver approached her and started abusing her, saying ‘you stupid fg b**ch – look what you have done to my car.’

Mr Ace said that Kobetic claimed Miss Pickett had been in the middle of the road when the incident occurred but that she was actually up against the verge.

Kobetic proceeded to tell Miss Pickett that he horse was going to die and then initially gave a false name at the scene, while also claiming that he had only been travelling at 30mph.

A vet attended the scene and confirmed that the horse had suffered a fracture near the pelvis and a decision was made to put the animal down, but it in fact died from its injuries before this was possible.

Miss Pickett herself suffered injuries including back pain and bruising and was taken to hospital.

Speaking at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, an emotional Miss Pickett said: “The driver killed Archie due to the force of the impact and I sustained injuries that still affect me today.

“I have been distraught over the death of my horse. I was inconsolable and angry that the driver drove like an idiot.

“That horse was my best friend. I sometimes blame myself and think what if I had come back earlier.

“I feel lost without Archie and I sometimes wake up thinking that I have to go to the farm but then realise that he’s gone. I miss going there and feel envious when I see other riders on their horses.

“I have been having flashbacks of the incident, and I can’t watch TV because I get anxious if I think someone is going to get hurt. I cannot stop thinking about the pain that Archie was in.

“I just want justice for killing Archie and injuring me.

“I cannot face the thought of riding another horse in the future, and I feel lucky to still be alive.”

Having been questioned over the incident but at that point not charged, Kobetic was then involved in another incident of dangerous driving just months later.

On the afternoon of November 12, 2020, his wife contacted police because she was concerned after he had driven away from their home having apparently taken drugs.

A short time later Kobetic was seen on Maesteg Road, near the services at Sarn near Bridgend.

Two witness in other vehicles saw him driving erratically by speeding up and then slamming on his brakes and straddling the white lines on the road.

“At one point he collided with some branches on the side of the road,” said prosecutor Mr Ace.

“He then turned into another road and turned into oncoming traffic, forcing other vehicles to stop.

“At around 1.15pm that day, a Mr Bailey saw the defendant’s vehicle parked on a curb. He passed the vehicle again a short time later and the driver was slumped on the driver’s side.

“A neighbour knocked on the window and the defendant responded by saying that he was ‘having a kip’. The neighbour could smell alcohol and called the police, but the defendant drove off and nearly hit the neighbour as he did so.”

Shortly afterwards, an unmarked police car noticed Kobetic’s car due to him straddling white lines on the road, and he was said to be “slumped with his eyes barely open”.

When he was stopped Mr Ace said that officers noted that it was clear that Kobetic was “intoxicated” and was “unable to walk”.

Kobetic was arrested and taken to a police station where he was asked what substances he had taken.

He replied that he was “using medication” but was uncooperative and refused requests to provide a blood sample.

In mitigation, defence barrister Adam Sharp acknowledged the “very compelling” personal statement read by the victim in the first incident.

He did however say that it was a single incident and that there was no suggestion that Kobetic was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but conceded that that was not the case with regards to the second incident.

“The defendant has demonstrated remorse and was cooperative in admitting that he was the driver involved,” said Mr Sharp.

“He has also been in custody since November during what I am sure you will agree have been very testing times. He has no previous convictions for dangerous driving and he tells me that he does not have the possession of any motor vehicle and he does not intend to drive again.

“The defendant last received a significant term of imprisonment in 1997 when he was a drug addict. He has since made progress and set up his own business as a licensee.

“He also has a long history of mental health problems which he has received treatment for in the past. He has a background of depression which he says has come to the fore as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the stress put upon him.

“He has been unable to operate (his business) and endured an emotional breakdown.”

Asking for a suspended sentence to be considered, Mr Sharp added that, on the day of the second offence, Kobetic had not taken heroin but had in fact taken an old prescription of methadone that he still had access to.

Summing up the case, Recorder IWL Jones said that Kobetic had caused Miss Pickett “physical and emotional pain” and that it was obvious to all in the court that the emotional damage was still a factor in her life. He also said that, during the second incident in November 2020, Kobetic was guilty of dangerous driving “over and over and over again”.

Addressing Kobetic, he added: “You are extremely lucky that someone did not die. Your own wife was so concerned that she herself rang the police. I take into account everything said on your behalf but when it comes to matters like your livelihood, in the end all these troubles flow from what you did. You are to blame.

“I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that these offences are so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.”

Recorder IWL Jones sentenced Kobetic to 12 months in prison for each of the two charges of dangerous driving. He also handed down a sentence of four months in prison for failing to provide a specimen which will run concurrently, meaning a total sentence of 24 months.

Half of that will be served in prison and half will be served on licence.

Kobetic was also banned from driving for 11 years.