COUNTY NEWS: Elderly driver who caused death of Sussex woman is spared jail

An elderly motorist who caused the death of an Udimore woman after his car crashed into a Costa Coffee shop on Christmas Eve 2015 has been spared jail.

Valerie Deakin
Valerie Deakin

David Lord, aged 87, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday, March 23, having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was ordered to pay costs of £1,500 and was disqualified from driving for five years. He will have to take an extended test should he wish to drive again.

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Lord, of Croydon Road, Westerham had been at the wheel of his Audi A4 on December 24, 2015 when the incident happened at around 10.30am. After turning from Croydon Road into Westerham High Street he lost control of his car and collided with several other vehicles. The Audi then left the carriageway and careered into a Costa Coffee Shop, at the junction with London Road.

Valerie Deakin, aged 74, had been sitting at a table in the coffee shop when the collision occurred and was struck by the car. The victim died at the scene from her injuries. Five other people were hospitalised as a result of the incident.

Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit carried out an extensive and thorough investigation following the incident, including issuing witness questionnaires to bystanders and ensuring the Audi underwent inspections by experts, to see if there had been any defects which may have contributed to the collision.

Sergeant Glyn Walker said: ‘David Lord’s car was rigorously checked by experts for any defects, but there were none. We believe he simply lost control of the vehicle by wrongly pressing the accelerator, causing it to leave the road at speed and with tragic consequences. Mrs Deakin’s death has had a profound impact on the families of both the victim and the driver and I hope today’s sentence will at least provide some closure.’

A statement by Mr Deakin issued through police said: “On December 24, 2015 our family was changed forever under horrendous circumstances. That morning, we were looking forward to spending a joyful Christmas together. By early afternoon we were a family in shock, utterly devastated.

“We have lost the kindest, most compassionate friend and mother, who we love beyond measure. Her death has left a huge void, and we are still trying to come to terms with this.

“Mr Lord’s actions have affected many people, causing physical and mental injury, pain, confusion, shock and grief. Numerous people narrowly escaped death or serious injury that day. This incident was entirely avoidable and should not have happened. There are no words to express how utterly heartbroken we are at the loss of our lovely mum. The pain is immeasurable.”

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