87-year-old driver admits killing woman in Christmas Eve coffee shop crash
An elderly motorist has pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving after his car crashed into a coffee shop on Christmas Eve, killing a customer.
David Lord, 87, lost control of his Audi A4 and careered into a Costa Coffee shop where Valerie Deakin, 74, was enjoying a drink with her eldest daughter and best friend.
Mother-of-two Mrs Deakin, who lived in the village of Udimore, near Rye, East Sussex, died at the scene in High Street, Westerham, Kent, following the crash at around 10.30am.
Two men and two women who were injured in the crash were taken to hospitals in London and Farnborough. Another woman was taken to Pembury Hospital with minor injuries.
Lord, of Croydon Road, Westerham, previously pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving but changed his plea at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday, Kent Police said.
He will be sentenced on January 23.
Following the hearing, the family of Mrs Deakin, who had been married for 50 years, said Lord's change of plea had been a "great relief".
They said in a statement: "Nothing is going to bring Val back and my family will forever grieve for the loss of a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother.
"We are aware that it is not only our family who face up to this tragedy and I can empathise with the Lord's family tribulations.
"Mr Lord's change of plea to guilty has been a great relief to my family and, although the adage 'forgive and forget' cannot yet be applied, we hope that in time we can forget and forgive.
"Val, however, will never be forgotten."
Sergeant Glyn Walker, of Kent Police, said: "David Lord's car was rigorously checked by experts for any defects, but there were none.
"We believe he simply lost control of the vehicle by wrongly pressing the accelerator, causing it to leave the road at speed and with tragic consequences."