A carer who fatally knocked down a 100-year-old grandmother in an Asda car park after “accidentally pressing the accelerator” of a van has been spared jail.
Cherise Lyons, 57, was driving a paralysed man to buy flowers for a date when the tragedy unfolded outside the supermarket in Shoebury, Essex.
She admitted causing the death of Joan Roskilly by careless driving, but was cleared of the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving at Basildon Crown Court on Thursday.
The van had flattened a bollard near the store front then hit Mrs Roskilly.
Judge Ian Graham, sentencing, said Lyons “didn’t park in a proper parking bay” and left the vehicle’s engine on, in gear and in automatic mode with the handbrake on as she left the vehicle to check the petrol cap.
He said whether it was by a “pure accident or whether you touched the wrong pedal by mistake”, her foot touched the accelerator as she got back into the van and the handbrake was overridden.
You didn’t act properly in stopping the vehicle, in finding the brake, and I expect you panickedJudge Ian Graham
“You didn’t act properly in stopping the vehicle, in finding the brake, and I expect you panicked,” he said.
He noted she was “clearly very upset” about what happened.
Lyons, of Kingsmill Road, Dagenham, was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years.
She was banned from driving for three years and ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.
She gently nodded her head as the judge read out her sentence, and joined her family in the public gallery afterwards.
Patrick Dennis, prosecuting, had told the court Lyons was driving a Renault Trafic van belonging to Reece Clarke, who had been paralysed in a previous unrelated traffic incident.
She had stopped it by bollards outside Asda so fellow carer Sophie Bodimede could get out to buy flowers for Mr Clarke to give to his date.
He told jurors Lyons got out to look for where the petrol cap was, and when she got back in the van it accelerated, knocking down Mrs Roskilly.
She died while on the way to hospital after suffering leg and pelvis injuries on November 29 2016.
Heidi Carter, a relative of Mrs Roskilly, said in a victim impact statement read in court: “We all miss our nan Joan deeply and have been left traumatised by the circumstances in which she was killed.”