Careless carer caused crash which killed pensioner, 91

A CARER for the elderly who fatally collided with a pensioner while driving her car on a summer’s day has been found guilty of driving carelessly.

Stacie McCarthy
Stacie McCarthy

Stacie McCarthy, 24, of Bramble Road, Worthing, hit 91-year-old Lewis Locke while negotiating a right-hand turn into Sompting Road, Lancing, on September 19, 2012.

On Friday, a jury at Chichester Crown Court convicted her of causing death by careless driving.

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McCarthy, who had passed her driving test seven months prior to the crash, broke into fits of tears as the verdict was returned.

During the trial, Edward Hand, prosecuting, said: “You negotiated that turn without enough care. If you had been more careful in taking that turn you would not have hit Mr Locke.

“Because as I say, the prosecution say, you didn’t take care and that is what caused the collision, isn’t it?

“And now, because of that lack of care, Mr Locke died.”

“That is not the case,” McCarthy replied.

McCarthy had argued the tragic event was a ‘freak accident’ and that she was blinded by sunlight moments before impact.

But key to the prosecution’s case was the assertion that she had failed to look properly beforehand.

She said: “I saw him hit the car and go past my windscreen. I did an emergency stop.

“I saw Mr Locke laying on the floor and he had a cut on his head. I don’t really know what happened after that.

“I started screaming and all of a sudden there were people everywhere.”

McCarthy told the court she had attempted to find a parking space while running an errand for her mother.

Having searched a number of locations she drove down North Road and attempted to park in a lay-by.

But when she ‘got her angles wrong’ she decided to head towards Sompting Road.

She said: “I did look and I was making all my observations.

“I can’t look at something that wasn’t there.”

Mr Hand replied: “Mr Locke was there, Miss McCarthy.”

She said: “If I saw him, do you think I would have run into him?”

“No, this would be a different kind of trial,” Mr Hand stated.

The trial heard from two expert forensic collision investigators, who confirmed McCarthy would have been blinded as she turned into Sompting Road and it would have been too late to avoid the crash by that stage.

Despite driving at a sensible speed of between nine and 13mph, the prosecution said the time between pulling out of the lay-by and impact was sufficient to have spotted Mr Locke crossing the road.

Mr Hand asked Paul Croft, collision investigator for the defence, whether McCarthy had complied with the Highway Code rules regarding being dazzled (93) and taking care at junctions (170).

Mr Croft said she had followed rule 93 but said it was for the jury to decide on the other.

Barry Cheeseman, defending, said his client would only have had split seconds to react.

He said: “She will be haunted by the events for the rest of her life. Can you really label her actions as a criminal act in that split second?

“There is such a thing as a terrible accident where nobody is at fault.”

McCarthy will be sentenced next month, with a jail term already ruled out.