The fiancée of a man killed in the Shoreham Airshow disaster blamed the aftermath of the tragedy for her actions after pleading guilty to driving her sister’s car while disqualified.
Giovanna Chirico, 33, of Barton Close, Worthing, appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified and using a motor vehicle on a road without third party insurance.
This really is a one-off incident that she deeply, deeply regretsMatt Baines
The defence told magistrates that Chirico drove her sister’s car due to stress caused by ‘mainly unwanted’ media attention in the wake of the disaster and concerns over her financial stability and her children’s welfare.
Chirico was sentenced to a six-month driving ban and a six-week curfew by magistrates. The ban will run consecutively with her current ban.
Earlier the magistrates heard how Chirico was driving a silver Nissan on the A24 at 11.30pm on Saturday, March 5 this year.
She was then pulled over by police at the Buck Barn crossroads.
Chirico initially told police she was her ‘twin sister’, the prosecution said, but was arrested after admitting her real identity.
Matt Baines, Chirico’s solicitor, told magistrates that ‘this really is a one-off incident that she deeply, deeply regrets’.
He said that Chirico told her sister ‘she couldn’t stand it any more’ before leaving her sister’s house and driving off in her car on the night of the incident.
Mr Baines added that Chirico said she was struggling to sleep after to the airshow disaster which claimed her partner Mark Trussler’s life on August 22, 2015.
Chirico was also worried about the welfare of her four children and what would happen to Mr Trussler’s estate as they weren’t married at the time of his death, Mr Baines said.
He added that Chirico was also being prescribed tablets for depression from St Lawrence Surgery in Worthing at the time of the incident.
During her curfew period, Chirico will have to wear an electronic tag and will be unable to leave her house from 9pm to 7am.
Chirico spoke out in court after the verdict to ask if the curfew could be lifted on August 22, the first anniversary of the disaster, so she could attend a wreath-laying event at the crash site.
The magistrates granted her request – but chairman of magistrates Andrew Seabrook warned Chirico that her crimes were ‘very serious’ and said that if she violated her ban ‘it is very likely that you would go to prison’.
Chirico was also ordered to pay £145 in court charges, which would be deducted from her benefits.
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