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No jail for woman who drove over pensioner in 4x4 twice

No jail for woman who drove over pensioner in 4x4 twice

A woman who knocked over and killed a pensioner by reversing her 4x4 down a cul-de-sac has avoided jail.

Joanna Maynard, 44, of Walthamstow, east London, pleaded guilty to causing the death of 87-year-old Elsie Sprague by her careless driving on January 12.

The defendant, who lives on health benefits, sobbed in court as she was sentenced to six months' imprisonment suspended for two years in what the judge described as an "exceptional" case.

The court heard how Maynard, who is bipolar and suffers from depression, backed down John Drinkwater Close in Leytonstone for 18 seconds in order to turn around and drive back out.

Her visibility behind was impaired and she was influenced by her mood when she twice drove over Ms Sprague's body, thinking she had hit a box, the court heard.

The victim was described in court as a "well known and popular lady" who was in good health, mobile and fiercely independent.

Judge Peter Rook QC, who had read a statement from her son, said: "It is clear the whole family have been profoundly affected by their loss."

He told Maynard: "You reversed in the cul-de-sac in order to turn around and drive out facing forwards. Ms Sprague walked past probably because she thought you had seen her.

"It was your responsibility to take notice of the clear limitation of your visibility through the rear window.

"You reversed a distance of 30 metres (100ft) over about 18 seconds, so it was no momentary lapse."

The judge told her she "took a chance when there was an obvious risk" and only stopped to see what she had hit after driving over the victim twice.

He said: "I have no doubt you felt at the time and still feel devastated. I have no doubt your remorse is genuine and your apology to the court and the family is genuine.

"There are compelling reasons why I should suspend sentence in this case - but they are exceptional reasons."

The judge disqualified Maynard from driving for eight years and ordered that she undergo an extended test if she were ever to apply for a licence again.

Defending, Elisabeth Acker had told the court that Maynard had no intention of getting back behind the wheel.

While the devastating impact on the Sprague family was "unimaginable", the defendant will never get over what happened either, she said.

Members of the victim's family sat in court throughout the hearing at the Old Bailey.