Wigan pensioner who crushed Preston woman under wheels of his motorhome is given suspended jail sentence

A pensioner who fatally injured a woman with his motorhome after an argument in a supermarket car park has avoided jail.

By Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 3:19 pm

Seventy-seven-year-old Charles Edwards of Up Holland Road, Billinge, pleaded guilty to guilty to causing death by careless driving, after the death of 39-year-old Angela Booth in May 2019.

The court heard that around 6am on May 24, 2019, both Edwards and Miss Booth arrived together at Morrisons car park in Blackpool Road, Preston, in his Peugeot Eldiss motorhome.

What happened?

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The late Angela Booth of Preston

They had a disagreement - about which the court heard no details - and Edwards demanded that Miss Booth leave the cabin of the vehicle.

She initially resisted, but then did leave the vehicle. She objected to him leaving her there alone.

As he started to drive away, Miss Booth took hold of the passenger window, and was dragged a short distance, but was able to remain on her feet. After she "made a noise her would not have failed to notice", Edwards stopped the vehicle.

The argument continued until Edwards began to drive off once again.

Morrisons in Blackpool Road, Preston

At this point, Miss Booth grabbed onto the door handle of the passenger door, and as he continued driving, she fell and was trapped between the axel of the vehicle and the road surface. She was dragged a total of 49m.

After the driver's attention was caught by other people, he stopped.

The prosecution accepted that there is no evidence to say Edwards would have been able to have seen Miss Booth holding onto the door.

Miss Booth, from Preston, was badly injured and was taken to Royal Preston Hospital. She died in Wythenshawe Hospital on June 14. A Home Office post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death as multiple injuries.

Family tragedy

A personal statement of Miss Booth's daughter, Rebecca Wiley was read to the court by the prosecutor. Although she was in attendance, she was too upset to read it herself.

In it she described how hard it has been for her to come to terms with her mother's death and how further family tragedy had unfolded since.

She said: "I was unable to say goodbye properly and see how she looked when she died".

She described how her mum had been her "best friend" who she would see everyday and who was the "centre of the family".

She described how painful it was to go through her first pregnancy without her mum's practical help, and that "the knowledge my son will never know his nana causes me to cry everyday."

She added: "I wake up at night thinking about my mum. I wake thinking that she's cold in her coffin and I can't go back to sleep."

Her statement also told how her auntie had taken her own life since the death of her mother, though she couldn't say it was as a result of the death. And now that she has lost two

daughters, her nana had now had a mental breakdown.

Describing her mother in life, Miss Wiley said: "I would describe my mum as one on her own.

"She had her own struggles with mental health, but this did not stop her being a fun and bubbly lady who would help anyone as much as she could."

"Not careful and competent"

Prosecution barrister Peter Barr argued that the sentencing should reflect that Edwards should have checked Miss Booth's whereabouts before setting off for a second time, saying it was "not the actions of a careful and competent driver".

Defence lawyer Jason Pitter QC, said the facts of the case were not in dispute, but that "grabbing onto a vehicle was outside of his (Edwards) control", and had he known she was hanging onto the doorhandle, would stopped- as he had demonstrated by stopping the first time.

Arguing against a custodial sentence, Mr Pitter argued that Edwards had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, and that he was in remission for bowel cancer, but further medical investigations were taking place.

He said: "He is not of good health, actually he is in relatively poor health, therefore any custodial sentence would have a greater impact on him than somebody younger and fitter."

He said the cause was exceptional in that "the quality of the driving itself isn't being criticised", but admitted Edwards failed to carry out proper observations.

The sentence

Sentencing Edwards to a 12 month sentence, suspended for seven months, Judge Robert Altham said: "This is a very sad and a very difficult case."

He added: "Miss Booth was at the centre of her family and clearly a bubbly. much-loved mother and sister.

"No sentence can bring her back, no sentence is equal to her loss. She was a much loved and precious woman."

As well as the suspended sentence, Edwards will be electronically tagged for seven months with a curfew between 8pm and 6am, and has been disqualified from driving for five years.