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Salvation Army volunteer Deirdre Smart jailed for death of Barry Embling
Updated 9:19am Thursday 27th March 2014 in News
A 59-YEAR-OLD woman driver has been sent to jail for causing the death of an 80-year-old man she failed to see crossing the road in a Worcestershire village.
Deirdre Smart should have had Barry Embling, of Brockhampton Close, Blackpole, Worcester, in plain view for up to six seconds as he crossed Hurst Lane in Fernhill Heath, Worcester Crown Court was told.
But Smart, of Alder Grove, Droitwich, told police she did not see him until she hit him and he went over the bonnet of her car.
Mr Embling suffered spinal injuries in the accident on May 25 last year and died from complications in hospital on June 8. Smart pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and had vowed never to get behind the wheel again, the court heard.
Michael Conry prosecuting, told the court Smart had been returning from a regular shopping trip to Sainsbury's in Blackpole in a Rover she had owned for 12 years which had no mechanical faults. It was the middle of a clear day with good visibility and Mr Embling was described by another driver, Mr Andrew Neale, as crossing the road in a "sprightly" manner.
Mr Neale saw the car approach him and realised there would be an accident unless one of them took evasive action.
"He thought at the last minute the car would swerve or stop but it carried straight on and ploughed through Mr Embling," Mr Conry said.
Evidence showed Smart should have been able to see Mr Embling in the 30mph zone for about 75 metres, a total of about six seconds, which meant the offence fell just short of dangerous driving.
Smart had been a passenger when her husband was killed in a car accident shortly after she had passed her driving test in 1976, the court heard.
Ruth Edwards, defending, said Smart suffered a brain injury in that accident and took months to fully recover but there were no medical reasons why she did not see Mr Embling. She did not own a mobile phone, the car radio was off and she had no distractions.
"There is no explanation. She simply failed to see him," Miss Edwards said. "It is a tragic, tragic accident."
Smart had brought up two children and was highly regarded for her voluntary work with the Salvation Army and Shelter, Miss Edwards said.
Mr Embling, who was not married, had no identification on him at the time and police issued an appeal to identify him. Originally from the Stoke area, he had lived in Worcester for over thirty years.
Judge Christopher Plunkett said Smart found herself in crown court facing imprisonment when all she had been doing was the everyday task of driving a car.
"This tragedy serves to underline that this everyday task is one that requires a great deal of vigilance," he said.
He jailed Smart for nine months and banned her from driving for three years.