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Lasting remorse over Devizes OAP crossing tragedy
2:30pm Friday 16th August 2013 in News
Julieta Couch yesterday. She admits causing the death of pensioner George Beale, by careless driving
Julieta Couch told police she was full of remorse over the accident which cost the life of Devizes pensioner George Beale.
Couch, 63, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when she appeared at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The case was adjourned for sentencing.
Keith Ballinger, prosecuting, said that Couch, of Parkfield, Devizes, was driving along Bath Road, towards the town centre when her Citroen hit Mr Beale, 87.
Retired bus driver Mr Beale, who lived near the Melbourne Place crossing, was taking his dog, Bertie, for a walk when the accident happened at about 8pm on March 18.
Mr Ballinger said another driver, Jack Davis, was behind Couch’s car and saw Mr Beale.
Mr Ballinger said: “Mr Davis described Mr Beale walking on to the second half of the crossing. The Citroen didn’t slow down and he didn’t see any brake lights on the Citroen. Mr Beale was three quarters of the way across the crossing when the Citroen collided with him.”
Mr Davis stopped and called 999 while a resident of a nearby flat came out with a blanket. Couch’s Citroen was seen being driven down Belle Vue Road. The windscreen appeared to be damaged.
When Couch returned to the scene, Mr Ballinger said she got to her knees next to Mr Beale and stroked his arm.
A paramedic had arrived to treat Mr Beale. Mr Ballinger said: “The paramedic asked her if she knew Mr Beale. She said ‘No, I’m the driver.’ She told a police officer at the scene ‘I remember seeing the dog, not the man’.”
When Couch was interviewed by police she told them that she had a clean licence, had been driving since 1991, knew the location well and had been returning home after visiting a friend in Melksham. She said she had suffered a stroke in 1999 which affected her short-term memory.
Mr Ballinger said: “Mrs Couch told the police ‘I’m devastated by the collision and keep on playing it in my mind. I think about it every second of the day and night. I will never get over this’.”
She understood the impact on Mr Beale’s family would be greater.
Police said the car was travelling at between 19-23mph when it hit Mr Beale and he would have been in view for about six seconds before the collision.
Rosemary Walsh, defending, said: “The police officer who investigated said the most likely scenario is Mrs Couch looked but didn’t see Mr Beale and that sums it up very aptly.
“After the incident she returned to the scene and accepted she was the driver. She was in shock and disbelief at the time.”
Mr Beale, a widower, was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital, near Bristol, but died five days later. He had a daughter and two grandchildren.