Eighty-seven-year-old jailed for death by dangerous driving

The judge handed down a 27 month sentence

1y ago

Driver William Heagren, 87, has been jailed for killing a woman when he mistook his car's accelerator for the brake. Despite asking him to be bailed whilst he appealed against his 27 month custodial sentence, Judge Lana Wood refused to let Heagren out and said he must go straight to prison.

William Heagren's Ford Fusion slammed into Jeanette Newman, 64, and her friend Sarah Taylor, 53, who suffered life-changing injuries, on May 26, 2018.

He continued reversing, carrying the women towards a bollard, which stopped the Ford in its tracks after travelling around 100ft in a Sainsbury's car park in South Ruislip, west London.

Ms Newman died in hospital the next day from brain injuries she sustained after hitting her head on the tarmac, while Ms Taylor bore the brunt of the “out of control” vehicle and suffered a stroke.

Reacting to the sentence, Ms Newman's partner of 25 years, Andrew Roberts, 58, said: “I was not expecting him to be jailed.

"It doesn’t give me any pleasure, but it proves there is justice after all."

He added: “I am a broken man since Jeanette was so violently and suddenly taken away.

"Of course, I feel strongly about the person who caused her death, but there are no winners in this situation. Today was about Jeanette.”

Heagren's car had hit a bollard at slow speed minutes before it slammed into the women, Harrow Crown Court was told.

Then aged 86, he was seen in an angry state looking at the damage to the front bumper before getting back into the car and slamming the door shut.

He added: “I re-entered the vehicle, put the car in drive, handbrake off, touched the throttle the slightest bit because I was going to creep into that place, and the car moved and then reversed back at speed.” An expert collision investigator disagreed with Heagren’s account and concluded the tragedy was a result of driver error and “a classic case of pedal confusion".

The expert told the court that, in his opinion, Heagren selected the wrong gear, became confused between the pedals, and then depressed the accelerator firmly believing it to be the foot brake.

Ms Newman was knocked unconscious with fractures to her skull, face and ribs as well as a punctured lung and a blood clot on the brain.

Her life support machine was switched off the following morning after surgery to relieve a blood clot on the brain failed.

Heagren has never apologised to his victims’ families, but the defence nonetheless claimed he had shown “genuine remorse” in interviews with his probation officer.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

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Comments (24)

  • Really we should all be retested every 10-15 years.

      1 year ago
  • Driving, whilst central to the lives of many is a PRIVILEGE - NOT A RIGHT. If you abuse it you should loose it. Sadly the reality of life is that many of us do not treat it as a privilege and so neglect it. We allow complacency to creep in and our driving standards to drop. Some of us do not give any thought to this and some simply do not even care. Then there is the harsh fact that we may reach the point where we simply cannot cope with the physical and mental challenges of driving on today’s busy roads. We owe it to ourselves and everyone else we share the roads with to drive at our best and if that means we have to constantly prove our ability to drive safely on the roads then so be it. Put it another way, if some unsafe driver takes the life of one of your loved ones, how will you feel?

      1 year ago
  • It's just stupid putting that man into prison. I mean it doesn't help anyone, it just destroys the tiny rest of his life.

      1 year ago
  • I think that once you hit 70 you should have to do a driving evaluation test once a year

      1 year ago
  • To me prison doesn't sound fair he made a mistake and showed genuine remorse.

      1 year ago