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Verdict due on school crash driver

A judge will today decide whether a 62-year-old motorist was at fault for a serious road crash which injured a lollipop lady, parents and schoolchildren.

Robert William Bell has been on trial at Cardiff Magistrates' Court accused of driving without due care and attention.

District Judge Bodfan Jenkins has heard the qualified engineer lost control of his Audi A4 outside Rhws Junior School in the Vale of Glamorgan last year - sending pedestrians "cartwheeling" through the air.

Among the injured was school crossing patroller Karin Williams, who was hailed as a hero for throwing herself in front of the runaway M-reg convertible.

The 50-year-old, whose horrifying catalogue of injuries included broken legs, elbow, shoulder and ribs, was in hospital for 10 weeks.

One child ended up on life support for three days and later needed treatment at specialist children's hospital Great Ormond Street.

Diagnosed diabetic Bell denies being at fault for the crash, saying he lost control of his 2.6 litre vehicle after suffering a severe coughing fit.

During the trial, respiratory expert Professor Alyn Huw Morice described the defendant as a classic cough syncope patient.

He said: "All of the evidence I have heard is typical of a patient with cough syncope having a road traffic accident.

Professor Morice added that sufferers can often faint suddenly - and the condition causes around 25 road deaths per year.

However, the prosecution says the defence's cough syncope theory is "inaccurate" and does not explain why Bell's arms were rigidly outstretched as his vehicle veered off the road.

The Crown says if Bell, of Rhoose, had blacked out his arms would have gone floppy and he would have slumped at the wheel.

In her evidence, Mrs Williams - who has helped youngsters cross the road for the past 10 years - said: "I remember seeing the driver's eyes were wide open and gripping his hands tight on the steering wheel.

"I was shouting something to warn the kids and moved in their direction out of instinct.

"The next thing I remember is being underneath the car and feeling a sharp pain."

Following two days of evidence, Judge Jenkins is expected to deliver his verdict on the case today.

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