Elderly Lincoln widow caused cyclist’s death after swerving onto wrong side of road

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An elderly motorist caused the death of a cyclist when her car drifted onto the wrong side of the road, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Alice Belton, 80, moments earlier swerved into the wrong carriageway but managed to get back on to her correct side of the road.

But then she again swerved and appeared to accelerate driving straight into Penelope Brown who was out cycling with her partner.

Mrs Brown, 35, received emergency treatment at the scene and was taken to hospital but died later the same day.

The incident happened as Belton, who had been driving for 40 years without any blemish on her licence, was travelling home along Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln, after dropping off a friend following a visit to Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Sarah Knight, prosecuting, said: “Penelope Brown had dropped her daughter off at school that morning and was riding her bicycle with her partner. She was an experienced cyclist.

“It was round about 1pm when a Toyota Auris driven by Alice Belton suddenly veered across into her side of the carriageway and collided with her. Penelope Brown was doing nothing wrong.”

Miss Knight said that a motorist driving behind Belton noticed that the pensioner was slow to pull away from traffic lights.

Soon afterwards Belton drove across the road and mounted the pavement.

Miss Knight said: “It is quite clear that Alice Belton then picked up speed and headed into her side of the carriageway again then out and onto the wrong side of the road.

“Witnesses saw it speed up and saw the collision with the cyclist. It was as if she had pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.”

The prosecutor said that Belton was found sitting upright in her car with her hands on the wheel with her eyes open.

“She was asked if she was on medication. She said she wasn’t although she later told the police officer that she had blood pressure and diabetes and was on medication.”

Belton later told police she had taken a friend shopping in Sainsbury’s then dropped the woman off and was heading back to her own home.

“She said she suddenly felt peculiar and out of it. She remembered being on the wrong side of the road and seeing the cyclist and felt unwell and blacked out for a moment or two.”

The court was told that the death of Mrs Brown had left her family devastated and struggling to cope.

Mrs Brown’s father Gordon Dickinson, in an impact statement, said: “Since the accident which killed my daughter my life has more or less ended.

“The whole family is heartbroken and destroyed.”

Alice Belton, 80, of Gregg Hall Close, Lincoln, admitted causing the death of Penelope Brown by careless driving on September 23, 2016.

She was given a 12 month community order with a three month electronically monitored night-time curfew.

She was also banned from driving for three years and ordered to take an extended driving test before she can drive again.

Recorder Matthew Lowe said under sentencing guidelines the case merited a community order as it was accepted that it was in the lowest category for causing death by careless driving.

He said: “The sentence in this kind of case should never be seen as an attempt to place a value on a life. Penelope’s life was precious and her life had incalculable value to those who loved her.”

Karen Walton, in mitigation, said that Belton, a widow, was distraught at what happened.

She told the court that Belton has since handed her driving licence back to the DVLA and does not intent to drive again.

Miss Walton said: “She has a son and a daughter and grandchildren. She is acutely aware of the loss Mrs Brown’s family must feel.

“Up until that day she had never caused anyone any pain or sorrow.”