A pensioner who killed a cyclist after losing control of her car told a shocked onlooker: “I pressed the wrong pedal”, a court heard yesterday.
Marjorie Tappenden, now 74, made the admission to a mother who witnessed the fatal collision as she took her two young children for a walk, Barkingside magistrates’ court was told.
Prosecutor Graham Partridge said Mrs Tappenden had been driving a Nissan Pixo when she careered into Kevin Lane, 52, as he cycled in High Road Woodford Green at 1.30pm on February 9 last year.
The case was committed to Snaresbrook crown court for sentence after District Judge Gary Lucie ruled that his maximum powers of a six-month prison sentence were insufficient, bearing in mind the seriousness of the offence.
Mrs Tappenden, from Woodford Green, will appear at Snaresbrook next Friday, January 30. She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to causing death by careless driving. She is unlikely to be jailed but can expect a long suspended sentence and driving ban. She is currently under an interim driving ban until the sentence is handed down.
The court heard that she had been exiting Forest Approach, intending to turn right, when she lost control. Her husband Brian, a wheelchair user, was in the passenger seat.
Mr Partridge said: “She pressed the accelerator when she meant to press the brake pedal, with the effect the Nissan shot forward on to the High Road, crossing one lane of the carriageway, and on to the carriageway where Mr Lane was cycling.
“He was thrown from his bicycle and became trapped under the Nissan. All the while, Mrs Tappenden’s foot remained on the pedal. The Nissan veered across the High Road, essentially coming back in the direction it had come. It mounted the kerb, coming to rest on the grass verge.
“Mr Lane was very seriously injured as a result of this. His life was pronounced extinct within half an hour. The post mortem on 11 February reported a cause of death due to severe chest injuries.
“Mr Lane, a vulnerable road user, had the right of way. It was unlikely he could have done anything to avoid the collision that caused his death.”
Witnesses noticed the change in the car engine’s tone caused by the amount of revving, and estimated the speed to 25mph-30mph, he said.
Mr Partridge said: “Mrs Tappenden said to the witness: ‘I meant to press the brake. I pressed the wrong pedal.'”
He said Mr Tappenden had realised his wife was having difficulty driving before she hit Mr Lane. “Before the car hit the cyclist he told his wife to take her foot off the pedals. He doesn’t think she did this until she stopped.”
Judge Lucie said the case fell into the most serious category of death by careless driving, with Mrs Tappenden’s inability to respond to her husband’s warning being an “aggravating feature”.
He said: “While I accept that the initial pressing of the accelerator instead of the brake may have been due to a momentary lapse, that momentary lapse then continued for quite a considerable period of time.”
Mr Lane’s partner Angela Cook sobbed during the hearing. Judge Lucie said of Mr Lane: “He cannot in any way be held responsible for the accident.”
See here for earlier coverage of the story in the Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/dont-let-73yearold-who-killed-cyclist-drive-again-girlfriend-urges-9992263.html