Driver fac­ing prison after pen­sioner death

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX HIB­BERT

AWO­MAN faces jail after be­ing found guilty of caus­ing the death of a pen­sioner by dan­ger­ous driv­ing.

Pamela Jaya­sun­dera died after she was hit by a Ford Ka be­ing driven by Susan Ray­bould as she crossed Hurds­field Road just after 5pm on March 13 last year, a court heard.

Harry Law­son Court res­i­dent Ms Jaya­sun­dera - who was known to friends as Jean - was rushed to North Stafford­shire Hos­pi­tal after the col­li­sion.

She suf­fered bro­ken ribs, a bro­ken leg and frac­tured her skull in the crash and later died.

Ray­bould ad­mit­ted a charge of caus­ing death by care­less driv­ing at Ch­ester Crown Court, but de­nied the more se­ri­ous charge of caus­ing death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing.

A jury found Ray­bould guilty of caus­ing Ms Jaya­sun­dera’s death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing by a majority ver­dict of 10 to two as the pen­sioner’s fam­ily watched on from the pub­lic gallery.

Matthew Dun­ford, coun­sel for the pros­e­cu­tion, told the court that Ray­bould’s driv­ing ‘fell far be­low what would have been ex­pected of a care­ful and com­pe­tent driver’.

He said that Ray­bould’s eyes were not on the road at the time of the in­ci­dent, and that she had in­stead been look­ing into the left hand side of her car’s in­te­rior.

He also told the hear­ing that Ray­bould had re­ceived a text mes­sage on her phone at 5.01pm, just min­utes be­fore the col­li­sion, though he con­ceded there was no ev­i­dence that the 61-year-old, of Bollin Drive, Con­gle­ton, had looked at the text while driv­ing.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, a num­ber of state­ments were read out from eye­wit­nesses, all de­scrib­ing see­ing Ms Jaya­sun­dera, 71, cross­ing the road slowly us­ing two walk­ing sticks. Some also de­scribed hear­ing Ms Ray­bould say ‘I didn’t see her’ after the col­li­sion.

Mr Dun­ford said: “Ms Jaya­sun­dera was there to be seen. The de­fen­dant was not do­ing what she should have been do­ing: look­ing at the road ahead of her.

‘She was not look­ing at the road ahead’

“For what­ever rea­son her at­ten­tion was not fo­cused on the road but on some­thing on the pas­sen­ger side of her car.”

A key wit­ness of the pros­e­cu­tion’s case was Richard Har­ri­son, a pedes­trian who had been walk­ing home along Hurds­field Road when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred.

He told the court that he had seen Ray­bould look­ing to her left rather than keep­ing her eyes on the road.

He said: “I could see the driver. I no­ticed she was not look­ing in the di­rec­tion of traf­fic, she was look­ing down. Her right hand was on the steer­ing wheel but her left hand was ex­tended out.

“She had her left hand ex­tended out to­wards the pas­sen­ger side or the seat, it looked like she was look­ing in the di­rec­tion of that arm.” But cross ex­am­in­ing Mr Har­ri­son, Tina Lon­dale, coun­sel for the de­fence, told the hear­ing that the phone was a ‘red her­ring’.

She told the court that Ray­bould had an old med­i­cal con­di­tion that meant she oc­ca­sion­ally ex­tended her arm out to al­le­vi­ate pain in her shoul­der.

When put to Mr Har­ri­son that could have been what he saw her do­ing, he said: “It could have been, yes.” He also said it was pos­si­ble that she was look­ing straight ahead.

Un­der ques­tion­ing, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist Ray­bould told the hear­ing that she con­sid­ered her­self a ‘care­ful’ driver, and said that she had her eyes straight for­ward, though she ad­mit­ted she had not seen Ms Jaya­sun­dera.

Ray­bould, who had been ob­serv­ing the speed limit as she drove home to Con­gle­ton from her daugh­ter’s house on Hurds­field Road, agreed with the ev­i­dence that there was noth­ing ob­struct­ing her view as she drove down Hurds­field Road.

She told the court: “There were no vis­i­bil­ity is­sues. I don’t know why I didn’t see her, I was look­ing straight ahead, at the road and driv­ing in my nor­mal way.

“It was a split sec­ond, I ei­ther saw and hit her, or hit her then saw her. I didn’t re­alise I had hit a per­son. I can’t re­mem­ber the seconds lead­ing up to the col­li­sion any dif­fer­ent from a nor­mal drive on that road. I can’t re­mem­ber mov­ing my arm but I may have done.

“My stan­dard of driv­ing was care­ful that day like I al­ways drove. I was not reach­ing into my bag to get my phone. At 5.01pm when the mes­sage came through I would have been at my daugh­ter’s house or putting her dog away.

“I don’t be­lieve the stan­dard of my driv­ing fell far be­low that of a care­ful and com­pe­tent driver.”

Ray­bould will sentenced next month.

●● Susan Ray­bould

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