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Young driver said elderly couple 'came out of nowhere'

21 year old hairdresser Taylor McDonnell Photo: Wales News

A young driver has been cleared of killing an elderly couple who she hit while talking on her mobile phone.

21-year-old Taylor McDonnell sobbed when she told the jury at Newport Crown Court she only saw 'a flash of colour' before hitting Denis and Joyce Drew.

The couple, who were both 86, were walking arm in arm through the village of Ponthir when the accident happened in November 2013.

McDonnell told the court she was talking to her grandfather on her hands-free speaker phone when she hit the pair, but denied making three calls whilst driving.

I was driving and I remember seeing on my driver's side the colour of something. Before I could get my mind to function something hit my windscreen and I slammed on my brakes.

I remember getting out of the car and grabbing my iPhone and asked my Bampi [grandfather] to help me. At first I thought it was an animal because you don't expect it to be a human.

I was driving at 30mph and I was looking straight ahead of me. I was driving carefully and responsibly. It was no different to listening to the radio or chatting to a passenger.

– Taylor McDonnell

McDonnell, who works as a hairdresser, said she couldn't have done anything to avoid the collision, and maintained the elderly couple 'came out of nowhere.'

But prosecuter Lucy Crowther said McDonnell was 'grossly distracted.'

Denis and Joyce Drew died after being hit by McDonnell's car Credit: Gwent Police

She wasn't paying proper attention to her driving - which ultimately caused the deaths of two elderly people - because a telephone call was far more important.

– Lucy Crowther, Prosecuter

Retired RAF airman Denis and teacher Joyce met on a blind date and had been married for 54 years.

Mrs Drew died of her injuries in the Royal Gwent Hospital just a few hours after the collision, while Mr Drew died six days later. He was too weak to undergo surgery to treat injuries sustained during the accident.

McDonnell, of Caerwent, Monmouthshire, denied two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

After eight hours of deliberation by the jury, she was cleared of both counts.

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