Otago Daily Times

Sentenced ‘over terrible mistake’

- ROB KIDD Court reporter rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

A RETIRED nurse who dedicated her life to helping others left an elderly woman in hospital for months after a “terrible mistake”, a court has heard.

Philippa Margaret Pilling (68), of Mosgiel, was a “good person”, community magistrate Simon Heale told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

She had never been to court, and never had so much as a speeding ticket, her counsel, Andrew More, said.

Her mantra had always been “do no harm”.

On July 9, Pilling was at a red light in Inglis St, waiting to turn into Gordon Rd.

The victim — a 93yearold woman — got the green light to cross moments before the driver’s signal also changed.

After brief confusion, a motorist opposite Pilling gestured for her to go.

She told police she “just heard the thump”.

It was a lowspeed collision but the impact on the pedestrian was severe.

The court heard she sustained two fractured bones in her left leg, fractures to bones in her pelvis, a ruptured bladder, laceration­s and a brain haemorrhag­e.

Her family, in a statement written last month, said she had previously been living independen­tly in a Mosgiel townhouse.

Now she was stuck in a hospital bed “disorienta­ted and confused at times . . . in significan­t pain and discomfort’’.

Discharge from hospital was a long way off and when it occurred, the victim would inevitably be in an assistedli­ving environmen­t, they said.

Despite the dramatic consequenc­es of the collision, they did not want Pilling to suffer further for her actions, they said.

Mr More stressed Pilling had immediatel­y assisted the victim after the crash and contacted the family to express her remorse.

“This is simply an unfortunat­e and terrible, terrible mistake,” he said.

Pilling volunteere­d for various charities, including the Mosgiel Food Bank, the court heard.

When she heard her victim had also worked there, she put in more hours in recognitio­n of her driving fault, Mr More said.

Mr Heale was confident Pilling’s remorse was genuine.

“The references make it clear you’re a good person who has dedicated her life to helping others,” he said.

“It’s one of the cruelties of these circumstan­ces . . . that you should now face the burden of responsibi­lity of causing such suffering.”

Pilling was disqualifi­ed from driving for six months and ordered to pay the victim $750.

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