A pensioner was banned from driving for ten years this week after admitting causing the death of a cyclist who she struck on a country lane last January without noticing, before driving on.
88-year-old Maureen Jesper avoided a prison sentence after pleading guilty to causing the death of mother-of-two Jacqui Witham by careless or inconsiderate driving, Birmingham Live reports.
The 46-year-old cyclist was struck by Jesper’s Renault Clio in the West Midlands village of Barston on the morning of 12 January 2022. At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court this week, the 88-year-old said she heard a “thud” as she drove along the country lane, but didn’t realise what had happened. She later discovered that her wing mirror was hanging off following the collision.
Footage from a nearby estate showed the harrowing moment an injured Ms Witham, after being struck by Jesper, attempting to get up before being hit by another motorist. The driver stopped immediately at the scene and was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
Despite the efforts of passers-by and medics, Ms Witham was pronounced dead at the scene.
While investigators initially assumed that only the second motorist had been involved in the collision, CCTV footage revealed Jesper’s role in the tragic incident.
Prosecutor Angela Hallam told the court that the pensioner had not realised what had happened until officers arrived at her home.
“Ms Jesper had no idea she had been involved,” Ms Hallam said. “She was quite shocked by what she was told.”
Matthew Kerruish-Jones, mitigating, said the grandmother accepted that she was driving without care at the time of the collision and that she wished to issue an apology to Ms Witham’s family.
Mr Kerruish-Jones argued that the motorist’s culpability was “low” and asked the judge to consider the lowest form of punishment. He claimed that while her failure to see Ms Witham was careless, she was driving at 36mph in a 50mph zone and her vision was impacted by the glare on the road caused by rainwater.
“Many people’s lives have forever been altered,” he said. “She is genuinely remorseful. This is a lady who comes to court who has lived a life of hard work and graft and has never been in trouble before.”
Jesper was disqualified from driving for ten years – a ban Mr Kerruish-Jones said means she is unlikely to drive again – and ordered to pay costs of £459.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Witham’s sister Julie Haye described her sibling as the “most fun-loving, generous” mother, while her parents said the “brightest light” in their lives had been “cruelly taken away”. They added that Ms Witham’s two children, who were aged eight and five at the time of her death, are being comforted.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.