An 88-year-old retired policeman has been fined £1,000 for causing the death of his wife’s friend through careless driving.
Richard Sambles, of Brandon Road, Mildenhall, admitted causing the death of 84-year-old Jean Elliot at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court today.
Prosecuting, Colette Harper said that at around 11.15am on March 21 last year Sambles had driven to the car park of the Scout Hall in St Andrews Street, Mildenhall, to pick up his wife Audrey after a fitness class.
She said: “His wife gets into the vehicle, a Honda Jazz, and as he is manoeuvring in the car park he reverses into Mrs Elliot and her walking frame.”
“She was struck by the rear nearside corner of Mr Sambles’ car.
“She falls to the ground receiving injuries to both her legs.”
Mrs Elliot, who was attending the same class as Sables’s wife, sadly passed away on May 20.
In mitigation, Karen Dempsey, said Sambles, a hero policeman twice injured on duty, was devastated by the position he found himself in.
She said: “If he could turn the back the clock he would baring in mind Mrs Elliot was a friend of his wife.”
Ms Dempsey said that Sambles, a father of three, is in ‘extremely ill health’ with a disorder that affects the number of red cells in his blood.
She said the collision took place at a very slow speed describing Sambles actions as ‘momentary inattention’.
She told the court that Mrs Elliot would have been hunched over and difficult to see.
“In essence, there was really only one opportunity to see her which would have been in the rear quarter window”, she said.
“There was a car to the left he was also watching and a tree to the right of the vehicle.”
She said Sambles had ‘at most a three second window of opportunity’ to see Mrs Elliot.
The court heard that Sambles has a exemplary 71 year driving record and that there was no suggestion that alcohol or bad eyesight were a contributing factor.
Ms Dempsey told the court that Sambles had previously worked for the Royal Navy, taking part in two arctic convoys between 1943 and 1947.
He had spend a lot of time in the engine room which had left him with bad hearing.
She said Sambles had worked as a police constable between 1951 and 1976 and was injured on duty both when he had saved a child crossing the road and when he was hit from behind during the Grosvenor Square riots in London.
Sentencing, Presiding magistrate Barry Ellis banned Sambles from driving for two years, fined him £1,000 and told him he must pay court costs of £85 and a £100 victim surcharge.