Sunday, 23 September 2018

I’m devastated for family, says woman cleared over death

A WOMAN cleared of blame for the death of a motorcyclist said she feels “devastated” for his family.

A WOMAN cleared of blame for the death of a motorcyclist said she feels “devastated” for his family.

Anne Green, 38, of Manor Road, Goring, wept in the dock at Oxford Crown Court last Friday after being acquitted of causing the death of John Maher by careless driving.

The court heard how her blue Peugeot 206 had spun out of control and crashed into Mr Maher’s Honda machine on the A4074 near Benson on February 19 last year, throwing him 40 yards.

Mr Maher, 52, from Reading, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs Green, who is beauty editor-at-large at Red magazine, told the court that she could not recall exactly what happened.

She said she had driven the route about 20 times since moving to the area three months previously. She had not been distracted and was travelling below the 50mph speed limit.

She had picked up her children, aged four and six, from her mother’s house in Wallingford and was driving south towards Goring when she collided with Mr Maher, who was travelling in the opposite direction.

Mrs Green, who is known to friends as “Rosie”, said: “I was driving along normally and the steering went wobbly. I couldn’t control the car — it was uncontrollable. I can’t explain any more.”

In a police interview, she said she had heard a “loud bang” but couldn’t recall the sequence of events. The court had heard that the section of road was coated in mud and

Mrs Green said: “Obviously at the time of the interview I didn’t know there was mud on the road, I just knew the steering didn’t work.

“Now I know it was there it makes sense to me.”

She added: “I’m devastated for the family and obviously I think about them all the time.”

Neither she nor her children were injured in the accident but they were taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford as a precaution.

Eyewitnesses told the court that Mrs Green’s car had spun out of her lane into the path of the motorcycle.

In a statement read out in court, Richard Howard said: “The motorcyclist didn’t have time to react. The motorcycle was thrown up into the car with considerable force and I didn’t see him land.”

He said he eventually found Mr Maher face down in a ditch 40 yards away from the point of impact.

Pc Peter Billingham, who was called to the scene, said he had noticed “a considerable amount” of mud on the road. He believed it had come from heavy goods vehicles exiting the Thames Water sewage treatment works in Benson Lane.

Pc Billingham said: “This area of the road looked quite damp on our first arrival. This would obviously affect the grip of tyres passing on this section.”

Terry Anderson, a collision investigator, said neither vehicle had any faults that could have caused the crash.

He also noticed the mud on the road but added: “I expected to have found previous skid marks to induce an earlier loss of control.”

Mr Anderson said there was no evidence of other cars having skidded there and believed Mrs Green “must have done something totally different to what everyone else did coming through that section of the road”.

Rachel Drake, prosecuting, said: “Mrs Green was not paying attention to the road and that’s why her vehicle lost control. That’s why she wasn’t able to regain control and why Mr Maher died in the collision.”

Tom Allen, defending, said Mrs Green had been driving for 19 years with a clean licence and had no previous convictions.

He read out a statement from Matthew Giles, a consultant physician at the John Radcliffe Hospital, who had known her for 15 years.

Mr Giles said she was a “careful and conscientious” person who didn’t take risks and she had been “devastated” by what had happened.

Mr Allen said there was no single explanation of what happened.

He said: “It’s either an extraordinary coincidence that the carelessness occurred at exactly the same point as where the concentration of mud was at its greatest at the end of a bend or in some way it is an explanation for what happened.”

The jury returned its verdict after five hours and 34 minutes and Mrs Green took deep breaths and cried in the dock for several minutes after it was delivered.

Mr Maher’s family were also in court.

Judge Gordon Risius said: “I want to express the hope that now these proceedings are at an end, everyone concerned can now look more to the future, though I accept that no one will ever be able to forget the tragic events that we’ve been dealing with.”

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