Driver, 78, who ran over and killed family friend is spared jail

Elderly driver, 78, who confused the accelerator with the brake then ran over and killed one of his wife’s best friends in a pub car park is spared jail after her family appeal for leniency

  • Henry Booth, 78, of Droylsden, was parking at the pub when incident happened
  • A court heard he mistakenly pushed the accelerator instead of the brake
  • Car hit Barbara Daniels who died from her injuries, his wife and another friend 
  • Mrs Daniels family said they bore ‘no malice’ towards Booth, who was spared jail 

An elderly motorist who accidentally ran over and killed one of his wife’s best friends as he was taking them out for lunch has been spared jail after her family appealed for leniency.

Henry Booth, 78, from Droylsden, Greater Manchester, was parking his car at his local pub when it suddenly rolled forward and he mistakenly pushed the accelerator instead of the brake.

The vehicle ploughed into his wife Joan and two family friends as they were walking into the Haddon Hall pub on October 21 last year.

Barbara Daniels, 83, suffered fatal crush injuries and died at the scene.

Henry Booth and his wife Joan outside Tameside Magistrates Court where the elderly driver was spared jail 

The accident occurred in October last year at Haddon Hall pub in Droylsden, Greater Mancheser

Mrs Booth, in her 70s, sustained a pelvic fracture whilst Rita Robinson who was also due to lunch with the group suffered a fracture to her left shoulder and a small fracture to her back.

Both are now recovering at home.

At Tameside Magistrates Court, Booth faced up to five years in jail after he admitted causing death by careless driving.

But he was conditionally discharged for 12 months after Mrs Daniels family issued an emotional courtroom pleas in which they forgave him, insisting they bore ‘no malice’ towards hm.

Mrs Daniel’s son Stephen said in a statement: ‘We as a family are obviously devastated at the death of my mother in such a situation and tragic circumstances.

‘As well as being a much loved mother and adored by her five grandchildren, her loss has left a big gap in our lives.

‘But from the beginning the family had not wanted Henry to be charged or to face any criminal consequences.

Booth, 87, (pictured) who was also ordered to pay £107 in costs and was banned from driving for 12 months

‘He and his wife have always been very good to my mother, such as running her to appointments and such like and it is very sad that one of those good deeds led to my mother’s death.

‘He has had to endure the threat of a penalty for over a year, and we hope this will be taken into account along with his kindness. We bear him no malice and wish him and Joan well for the future.’

The court heard that the tragedy occurred when the group were about to have one of their regular lunches together.

Andrew Hey, prosecuting, said: ‘The defendant stopped his vehicle and the three passengers, one of whom was his wife Joan and two friends Barbara Daniels and Rita Robinson got out of the vehicle.

‘Mrs Daniels and Mrs Booth began to walk in front of the car when the defendant suddenly drove forward colliding with all three females.

‘Mrs Daniels fell in front and was driven over, causing her fatal injuries. She was 83 years of age. Mrs Booth sustained a pelvic fracture and Mrs Robinson a fracture to her left shoulder and a small fracture to her back.

‘Both were subsequently discharged from hospital and are in the process of recovery. Their injuries are no longer serious or life changing.

‘The defendant’s vehicle continued to travel forward in the car park striking a Mitsubishi Outlander parked and unattended.

‘As a result of the contact the Mitsubishi was pushed through a hedge and came to rest on Haddon Hall Road, adjacent to the pub car park

‘The defendant’s vehicle came to rest partially in the hedge behind the Mitsubishi.

‘In an interview, Mr Booth said he had pressed the accelerator instead of the brake when he unexpectedly began to move forward.

‘He said there was insufficient time to resolve his mistake and correct it prior to the resulting collision.’

‘The defendant has no previous convictions, no warnings or reprimands against him.’

In mitigation defence solicitor Howard Bernstein said: ‘We lawyers can become desensitised to these types of cases but this one is genuinely tragic – over and above many cases that we deal with all the time.

Mr Booth’s wife Joan, in her 70s, and Rita Robinson were also injured in the incident which killed Barbara Roberts

‘I was impressed by the way Stephen Daniels was able to deal with this because he has lost his mother and the grandchildren have lost their grandmother in what he says were tragic circumstances.

‘They were very good friends. And they had been friends for a number of years. It was supposed to be a lovely occasion.

‘The three ladies who have all retired met up for a lunch and were driven by Mr Booth. All four were set for a very nice lunch at the pub, something they do regularly.

‘He parked the vehicle. His version of events, which he gave in interview was that the wheels started rolling as the hand brake was not on.

‘His wife also said that it was not on. He intended to put his foot on the brake to stop it but he did not do that. He missed it and put his foot on the accelerator and you saw what happened.’

‘It was in effect an accident. It was a momentary inattention due to the fact that the hand brake was off and his attempts to try and resolve the situation. These are exceptional circumstances in my submission.

‘He is 78 years old and does not require any rehabilitation.

‘This was an accident that has had a profound effect, not just on the victim, but on him as well. ‘He has to live with what happened.

‘One of his best friends lost their life and his wife was also injured as well as a third party.

‘He is extremely remorseful and you can only imagine the guilt that will remain with him for the rest of his life.

‘One indication of how awful he feels about it is that following the accident, he immediately sent his driving licence back.

‘He has no intention of ever getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle again. On speaking to his wife, his daughter, and two grandchildren they have noticed a change in him.

‘They say he was a big person when this happened. He is now frail.

‘Ordinarily, I would be saying that a 78-year-old man who loses his good character is itself a tragedy. But in this case, it’s the least of his problems.

‘He has got to deal with the tragedy of what happened every day.’

Telling the court that the accident could happen to the ‘best of us’ and that it was ‘a salutary lesson to us all’, Mr Bernstein added: ‘Everybody involved in this case are going to have to live with this for the rest of their lives.

‘I am only grateful for the families coming together and supporting each other. It’s a genuinely tragic case. Mr Booth is utterly devastated at what happened. The facts speak for themselves.’

Booth, who was also ordered to pay £107 in costs and was banned from driving for 12 months, told the hearing: ‘The only thing I would like to say is that Barbara’s granddaughter came around and we finished up hugging her and she was hugging me. My wife was there, and we were all hugging and crying..’

Sentencing JP Steve Barlow told him: ‘We all know this is a tragic case that we have heard, involving long standing friends. It is not often that we get something like this.

‘We feel that you are going to be punished every day for the rest of your life with the memories. You are not being punished today. However, if you commit any further offence in the next 12 months you will be punished for the new offence and you could be punished for this offence as well. But I am sure that is not going to be the case.

‘We have heard that you sent your licence back. We are pleased to hear that. However, you will be disqualified from driving for 12 months as part of the process.’

Following the hearing Booth asked his solicitor if he could shake the hands of the magistrates. Mr Bernstein relayed his thanks instead.

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