Driver guilty of killing 71-year-old neighbour who slipped on crutches

Credit: PA

A driver has been found guilty of killing her 71-year-old neighbour who slipped on crutches and fell under the wheel of her car.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Elizabeth Avorga, 42, was found guilty of causing the death of Janet Emmett by careless driving.

Ms Emmett had been attempting to cross the service road outside a block of flats in Croydon, south London, where she lived when she lost her footing, the Old Bailey was told.

The jury, which deliberated for four hours, wrote a note expressing concern at the lack of pavement in the area, suggesting builders should have put in place infrastructure to enable people to go in and out.

Old Bailey Judge Alexia Durran also expressed “surprise” there was no paved walkway and suggested the jury note should be passed to the Coroner.

The court heard how the defendant was returning home in her black Chevrolet after taking her children to school and nursery just before 9.30am on June 14, 2022.

Meanwhile, Ms Emmett had left her flat and was crossing Kingsdown Avenue, where they both lived.

Another neighbour heard screaming and went out to find the defendant’s car stopped on the grass verge with two legs and a crutch underneath it, prosecutor Charlotte Hole said.

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The neighbour described Avorga as being in a hysterical state, screaming: “I tried to stop but she slid and fell. I killed Janet. Oh my God, I’ve killed my friend.”

Paramedics found the victim trapped underneath the front left wheel and there were no signs of life, the court was told.

The fire service had to lift the car off so she could be taken to hospital.

The cause of her death was found to be crush injuries to her head and torso.

The defendant was allegedly heard by a police officer to say: “She was a good lady. We all cared for her. Why God, why?

“She was just walking up. She’s got crutches, she got crutches. She’s got a hip replacement. She was just telling me last week that she was going to have a replacement.

“She was walking up there cause we don’t have a sidewalk. She was just coming up, she was walking up the drive and then she slipped on her crutches and then in my panic the car just rolled. The car just rolled because I saw her fall. Oh my God.”

Later in a police interview, Avorga said Ms Emmett had been one or two metres in front of her car when she noticed her.

She said that she steered to the left to allow her to carry on crossing the drive down the service road.

She then saw her change direction back towards the car which was when she lost her footing and fell, the defendant said.

A crash investigator concluded the victim fell before and not as a result of the impact, the court heard.

Ms Hole told jurors: “When Ms Avorga had turned into the service road and having seen Ms Emmett, on her own account, she clearly appreciated that she represented a hazard in the road because she steered around her. She did not stop.

“It is the prosecution case that this was careless. Ms Avorga on her own account knew Ms Emmett had mobility problems, was waiting for a hip replacement and walked on two crutches.

“She passed so close when Ms Emmett was crossing the road that, when she fell, there was only one outcome and it was a fatal one.

“Had she stopped or at least passed Ms Emmett so widely there was no possibility the two would come into contact, the collision would have been avoided.

“Whilst I am sure you will all agree that Ms Avorga did not mean Ms Emmett any harm at all, the sad result is that a careless decision not to stop and wait and let her complete her crossing of the road has, the prosecution say, resulted in Ms Emmett’s death.”

The defendant denied the charge against her. She was granted continued conditional bail ahead of her sentencing on June 7.

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