Posted on December 10, 2004

Drink-Driver Blamed His Dying Wife For Fatal Crash

Helen Nugent, Times (London), Dec. 9

A banned drink-driver dragged his dying wife from the passenger seat of a car to make it appear that she had been driving after he crashed the vehicle.

Vimbai Chakudunga, 28, a trainee nurse, was jailed for six years yesterday and banned from the roads for ten years for causing the death by careless driving of Claire Chakudunga, 30, a care assistant.

After the verdict at Nottingham Crown Court it emerged that Mrs Chakudunga had been married for just seven weeks and was the daughter of Tony White, the policeman who captured the Black Panther murderer, Donald Neilson, in 1975.

Mrs Chakudunga died from multiple injuries, including a fractured skull ten days after the accident on the A60 at Ravenshead, near Mansfield, on November 27 last year. She never regained consciousness.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court took just 25 minutes to decide that her husbandhad been driving their Vauxhall Corsa when it smashed into a tree. He denied the charge. The court heard that Chakudunga had been working at King’s Mill Hospital near Mansfield.

After work he drove the car to a pub where he drank three pints of lager.

Witnesses told how, after the crash, they saw him climb from the driver’s seat and get out of the car. He then dragged his unconscious wife out of the vehicle and placed her on the ground.

One woman wept as she told the jury how Chakudunga had flatly ignored her pleas to stop moving his stricken wife.

When police arrived he insisted his wife had been driving.

He told the court that he pulled her from the car to save her life because he feared it could burst into flames.

But Grace Hale, for the prosecution, said that two witnesses had seen him in the driving seat seconds after the crash.

The court heard that he failed a roadside breath test and refused to give doctors a blood specimen.

After the verdict was announced, the court was told that he had previous convictions for drink-driving related matters. In July 1990 he was given 60 hours’ community service for driving with excess alcohol and was disqualified for two years. In August 2002 he was sentenced to 140 hours’ community service and disqualified for three years for failing to provide a specimen.

Mrs Chakudunga’s father, Mr White, 54, said: “I had been with my daughter shortly before she died. She was a wonderful girl.

“I have lost a daughter and nothing will ever bring her back. As for him, I don’t care what happens to him.”

He said that he was devastated by the death of his only daughter from his first marriage.

“I had to run out of the court with tears in my eyes after I heard the extent of her injuries. I was gutted.”

Mr White said that he had utter contempt for Chakudungahe, a Zimbabwean national who, he said, mistreated his daughter and would often disappear for days.

He said he believed he had only married his daughter because he wanted a visa to stay in Britain.

“He is not a man, he is vermin,” Mr White said.

“I saw her half an hour before the accident.

“She said she had made a mistake and she was going to divorce him.”

Passing sentence, Judge John Burgess told Chakudunga: “You have no regard for the drink-driving laws of this country.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence you pleaded not guilty. You have constantly done everything you could to get away with this.”

The Judge recommended to the Home Office that Chakudunga be deported to his native country after he had served his sentence.