Sunday 26 February 2017

Partially blind lorry driver cleared of dangerous driving after the death of couple

Emily Pennink

The Old Bailey in London
The Old Bailey in London

A lorry driver who is blind in one eye has been cleared of causing the deaths of an elderly couple by dangerous driving.

Darren Sanders, 44, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, admitted he was careless when he hit Vera and George Maskell at just 12mph on July 16 last year.

The Old Bailey heard how the couple were killed almost immediately after the collision in a cul-de-sac in Sunbury Cross, west London.

Prosecutor Jane Osborne had told jurors that the couple had been on their way back to their car after a shopping trip, with Mr Maskell wheeling their laden shopping trolley.

The incident was caught on CCTV and witnessed by passers-by who saw what happened or heard a "dull thud" of impact.

As they stood in the middle of the road, the Maskells appeared to freeze when they saw Sanders' heavy goods vehicle heading towards them from a service road.

Ms Osborne said: "They seemed uncertain what to do and in the event they did not move. Mr Maskell held onto his wife's arm as if he was trying to move her from the path of the vehicle but in reality it was too late for them to move anywhere.

"They were both struck and pushed some distance from the road."

Members of the public rushed to their aid and put Mr Maskell, 81, into the recovery position, but Mrs Maskell, 80, was trapped beneath the wheels.

The driver was heard to say: "They just stepped out in front of me," and told police he had not seen them.

Investigators found that he was moving at just 12mph and had the couple in view for 2.7 seconds but did not slow down until after he hit them.

He had no alcohol in his system and, while blind in one eye, had a valid driver's licence, the court heard.

The prosecutor said: "If he had seen the pedestrians he would not have hit them because his breaking time would have been such that he would have stopped before."

The couple both suffered from fractured skulls but were in good health before the crash, the court heard.

Sanders denied two counts of death by dangerous driving and was found not guilty by the jury after half a day of deliberations.

He will be sentenced by the Common Serjeant of London for the lesser offence of careless driving.

Press Association

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