Drug-driver caused woman catastrophic injuries before leaving her unconscious on the road

Marcus Falzon, 32, hit Sharon Warren with his partner's car in Cardiff and fled the scene as she lay unconscious on the floor.
-Credit: (Image: South Wales Police)

A drunk and drugged up driver left a grandmother with catastrophic and life-changing injuries after crashing into her. He fled the scene as she was left unconscious on the road, having sustained a serious brain injury.

Marcus Falzon, 32, took his partner's Nissan Qashqai, despite not having a driving licence, while intoxicated and hit Sharon Warren, 60, in Cardiff in the early hours of March 3. She was unresponsive as passersby and paramedics came to her aid, and remains in hospital as a result of her injuries.

A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday heard Mrs Warren was the owner of one of Cardiff's oldest baguette shops, Baguettes & Bagel in Miskin Street, Cathays. On the evening before the collision she had been dropped off at the shop at 10pm in order to clean and prepare the premises before the next day's trading. She would then walk home and feed stray cats on the way.

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The defendant, who described himself as a "recovering alcoholic", had been drinking lager, smoking cannabis and had taken two lines of cocaine. He returned to his partner's address and took her car, a decision he later could not explain.

Witnesses described hearing a "loud bang" at around 1am, after Falzon had sped past a "give way" sign and collided with bollards separating Fanny Street and Minny Street, hitting a number of parked cars and the victim. Taxi driver Mohammed Ali initially thought the Qashqai had not hit any pedestrians but he then saw Mrs Warren lying in the middle of the road.

Sharon Warren remains in hospital -Credit:Dean Warren
Sharon Warren remains in hospital -Credit:Dean Warren

Megan Frowley also heard loud bangs and ran a short distance in the direction of the noise. She saw Falzon near the scene of the collision, attempting to call the police via the digital iPhone assistant Siri. Oliver Martin shouted out of a window to the defendant and asked if he was okay, to which he responded: "It's okay, fine." Falzon was later seen on CCTV running from the scene as Mrs Warren lay prostrate on the floor. Witnesses described her breathing as "abnormal" and she was unresponsive.

Mrs Warren was taken to the University Hospital of Wales where she received treatment for bruising to both sides of the brain, blood to the left side of the brain, blood inside the brain, a wound to the left side of her chest, an open wound and deformity to the right lower leg, wounds to her abdomen and back, a collapsed lung, fractures to her spine, shoulder, pelvis, left knee, and right leg, and injuries to her liver. She underwent a number of surgeries, two blood transfusions and there were times when it was believed she would not survive her injuries.

Police made a check on the Qashqai which led to officers attending Falzon's partner's home at 1.59am. She said she did not know where her car or the defendant was but received a phone call from Falzon, who spoke to police. He admitted to taking his partner's car, but refused to divulge his location, claiming he would "hand himself in in the morning". He was eventually arrested at 3.23am after returning to his partner's home. When arrested, he said "Whatever fella" and "I don't give a s*** mate, f*** off."

At the police station, Falzon underwent tests for drugs and alcohol. He gave a reading of 56 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, the legal limit being 35 micrograms. Cocaine and cannabis was also found in his system, with the defendant providing a reading of 80 micrograms of benzoylecgonine per 100ml of blood, and 4.9 micrograms of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol per 100ml of blood.

Falzon, of Newport Road, later pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol, two counts of drug driving, driving without insurance and a licence, and aggravated vehicle taking. The court heard he has 12 previous convictions, and had previously been jailed for 36 months for causing grievous bodily harm.

In a victim personal statement read to the court by prosecutor Jason Howells, Mrs Warren's son Dean Warren said his mother remains in Llandough Hospital and will not be able to return to her home. He said: "Mum has a lot of pride in her shop and is extremely well-known in the community and treats customers as friends, a lot of whom have visited her in hospital. Every evening dad would drop mum at the shop at 10pm and she spent a couple of hours there and walked home when she was finished. She would love to feed local stray cats and would go to the same places at the same times, feeding them cat food and chicken left over from the shop. She would even do this on Christmas Day....

"Mum has always been very fit and active and worked 60 hours a week on her feet. She ran off little sleep with late nights and early starts but she always functioned. She has two grandchildren and regularly looked after them. She loved spending times with her grandchildren on weekends, and spending quality time with family....

"Dad was contacted by a police officer who informed him mum had been run over and was in a critical condition. He got hold of the rest of the family and we made our way to the hospital. I saw mum in A&E, she looked lifeless, incubated and a complete mess. I struggled for two weeks to look at mum as it was traumatic, she wasn't herself and I didn't recognise her.... We were informed she was in a critical condition and it was unknown whether she would survive. Every day we were wondering if she was going to still be alive."

Mrs Warren was later taken out of an induced coma but remained in a comatose state. She also underwent emergency surgeries to prevent a risk of death. She has since regained full consciousness and is said to have dealt with her condition in a "humourous attitude", but her quality of life and prognosis is "uncertain".

Mr Warren continued: "It's unlikely she'll be able to gain full independence, which will change the family and her life forever. She is likely to have difficulty in cognitive and bodily functions... She lives in constant fear and agitation and is unable to comprehend her situation... She feels scared, believes she is dying, doesn't want to be left alone and wants to go home. She has not spoken about the incident but asks about the driver, saying 'Why did he do it' and 'I hate him'...

"We have two options for mum, either she'll need to be transferred to a care facility or will come to live with myself or my sister. She is still needing some level of support in her daily life and will be unable to return to the marital home with our father. Life has changed forever due to that one incident on March 3."

In mitigation, Adam Sharp said there was nothing he could say that would "undo" the harm his client had caused. He said Falzon has serious issues with alcohol which had led to the majority of his offending, and said the defendant had suffered "significant trauma" in his childhood. He is father to a six-year-old son and plays a father role to his partner's two children, who will be affected by his incarceration, as will his 82-year-old grandmother who he visits regularly.

Sentencing, Judge Vanessa Francis said: "Mrs Warren and her family's lives have been changed forever by this event and she was a blameless victim in it. It is unlikely she will be able to go back to the home she shared with her husband of 40 years... No amount of remorse expressed by you can give what Mrs Warren and her family are wishing for, to be fit and well and for the devastation of their lives to pass away."

Falzon was sentenced to a total of three years and two months imprisonment. He was also disqualified from driving for six years and seven months. For the latest court reports, sign up to our crime newsletter here

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