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