A JURY at the trial of a pensioner whose car fatally collided with an 86-year-old woman at a supermarket ATM were warned the CCTV footage was so shocking they must “pull themselves together” to watch it.
The red Peugeot 206 was being driven by 76-year-old Pauline Cove when it struck Doris Lush and her 22-year-old granddaughter Rebecca outside Morrisons in Totton on 12th July 2018, Southampton Crown Court heard.
Other motorists and shoppers rushed to help the pair, giving them life-saving care before paramedics got to the scene and they were rushed to hospital. However, Doris could not be saved.
Rebecca suffered serious leg injuries which required a six-week hospital stay. During that time, she underwent “numerous procedures” including skin grafts, the court heard.
In the moments after the crash, motorist Robert Anderson rushed to help Cove, who was conscious and told him “those poor women”.
Cove has denied a charge of causing the death of Doris and serious injuries to Rebecca by dangerous driving. She claims she fainted moments before the collisions.
Opening the trial today (Monday), prosecutor Rosemary Burns said: “The crown say the driving was clearly dangerous.
“It could be described as driving well below that of a competent driver and certainly in this case that the defendant by driving that way caused the death of Doris Lush and serious injuries to Rebecca Lush.”
Mrs Burnes explained Rebecca Lush was getting money out of the ATM at the Spruce Drive store and Doris was standing nearby, while Doris’ daughter Alison Lush waited in a car nearby.
Cove had completed her shopping at the store and went to her vehicle, reversing out of a disabled parking bay and driving towards the store.
However, witnesses said her car was “lurching forward” amid “heavy revving” and went towards the ATM, where it struck the two women. The incident occurred at about 11.55am.
Footage of the crash and aftermath – captured by an overhead CCTV camera – was played to the jury, who had to be warned by the prosecutor beforehand about its contents.
“It is shocking, it is horrid; you have to pull yourselves together and watch it,” Mrs Burns told the jury.
Cove was taken to hospital, Mrs Burns went on, for minor injuries and told medics she had blacked out. Because of that, she was sent to a syncopy clinic, which looks into fainting episodes.
At a voluntary police interview Cove “repeated the claim that she could not recall the moment of impact” and was “not able to claim why she lost control”, Mrs Burns said.
It is Cove’s claim that she fainted prior to the crash which will be the focus of the trial, the jury was told. “This going to be a point of dispute and a principle point in this case which you will have to consider,” the prosecutor stressed.
The prosecution claim the evidence shows she wrongly hit the accelerator pedal and was conscious during the crash.
However, the defence say she fainted briefly while at the wheel, so could have no conscious control over the vehicle.
The prosecution’s crash expert, a police officer, has highlighted how the CCTV appears to show Cove with her hands on the steering wheel just before the impact and was sitting in an upright position, she said.
He had estimated that “immediately” prior to hitting the two women Cove’s car was travelling at “an approximated speed of 25mph”.
The court heard that around five seconds after the crash, the CCTV suggested Cove put on the vehicle’s handbrake when it appeared to roll backwards, indicating she was conscious. Medical records suggested Cove had not suffered any fainting episodes in 40 years.
Witnesses at the scene, including fellow motorists, also reported hearing “heavy revving” of her car shortly before the accident; one said the noise sounded like a “boy racer” was at the wheel of the Peugeot, Mrs Burns said.
The defence “do not agree” with what the prosecution say, Mrs Burns said, adding they will call Jonathan Webb, a crash investigator, to give evidence on Cove’s behalf.
Cove had no alcohol or drugs in her system at the crash scene, the court heard, and her vehicle had no defects.
She was medically fit to drive and had regularly renewed her licence with the DVLA, the court heard.
Mrs Burns said it was a “tragic” incident. “Nobody says Ms Cove intended to do this, how can she have done? It’s a tragic accident which affects all lives.”
The trial continues.