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Suspended sentence over crash that killed pensioner in Cannock

By Dayna Farrington | Cannock | Crime | Published:

A motorist has been given a suspended sentence after admitting causing the death of a pensioner by careless driving.

Christine Gerard, 62, had originally been charged with causing death by dangerous driving but the Crown Prosecution Service later accepted her guilty plea to the lesser charge.

She was handed a suspended sentence over the collision in Hill Street, Cannock, shortly after 5pm on November 24, 2017, which caused the death of 71-year-old pedestrian Maurice Murcott.

He was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but died from his injuries later that night.

The court heard Mr Murcott had just got off the bus to go home and was crossing Hill Street when he was struck by a Volkswagen Golf, driven by 62-year-old Gerard.

Mr Murcott broke both legs, fractured his pelvis and sustained two fractures on his skull in the collision.

'A sprightly 71-year-old'

Prosecuting, Mr Peter McCartney said: “The crown is assured Mr Murcott was visible as he crossed the road and was seen by the car driving behind Ms Gerard.

“They said from about 80 metres away they could see him crossing the road and they saw Ms Gerard’s car carry on driving. He disappeared from their view for a short period and then came tumbling over Ms Gerard’s car.

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"He was 71 years old when he died and although he walked with a walking stick he was said to be a sprightly 71-year-old. He was well in the offside lane when he was struck by the Volkswagen Golf.

"Ms Gerard had left her daughter’s home some minutes before and was not familiar with the area as her daughter had moved there that day.

"She was looking for a shop to buy cleaning products as the dog had been sick in the house.

'Travelling in the speed limit'

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"She was travelling in the speed limit of 30mph for that road. The street was lit by lampposts which police said they all seemed to be working.

"The car behind, driven by Samantha Ball and passenger Maxine Ball, when they came off the roundabout they saw Mr Murcott was already entering the road.

"Ms Gerard's Golf was about 15 metres ahead of them they said they have a view of him some 60 metres ahead.

"He was walking at normal pace and they saw him cross the centre lane of road expecting to see the Golf's brake lights illuminate but they did not.

"They said they lost sight of Mr Murcott momentarily then they heard a loud thud and saw him coming over the top and down the side of the car.

“The crown’s case is that there must have been an element of distraction, experts are agreed that she should have seen Mr Murcott – if she had seen him when her lights began to light him up there would have been enough time to react."

'A series of very unfortunate events'

Mr Martin Liddiard, defending, said: “It was a series of very unfortunate events all playing out together.

“Ms Gerard considered herself to be culpable. It has always been her position to acknowledge culpability.

"When you speak of regret and remorse this is one of those examples her expression of how she feels about what has happened is profound and very, very genuine.

"She has spent most of her working life looking after children in care proceedings. In her free time it is clear has done an extensive amount of charitable work, dedicating much of her free time to other people."

'Sadness for the rest of our days'

A victim impact statement read to the court on behalf of Mr Murcott's son Simon said that in less than 12 months the 'heart of their family had disappeared', after their mother had also passed away in January 2017.

His daughter, Sarah Pemberton, added: "Dad was in the best health he had been in years. He was a well and happy man with plenty of years ahead – he was taken from us and we will live with the sadness for the rest of our days."

Gerard, of Birmingham Road, Lichfield, was sentenced on Wednesday at Stafford Crown Court to eight months in prison suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid community work and disqualified from driving for two years – and will have to take an extended test.

She was made to pay court costs of £535.

'Needless death'

Sentencing her, Judge Mr Michael Chambers QC said: “By your failure to take proper care in a residential area you needlessly caused the tragic death of Maurice Murcott.”

"He had led a very positive and good life and was a role model for his family and much-loved.

"In assessing the appropriate sentence whatever sentence I impose cannot put the clock back.

"Mr Murcott proceeded to cross the road with the assistance of a walking stick not on the designated crossing point. You were not aware of him."

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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