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Devizes driver in crossing tragedy sentenced
Motorist Julieta Couch has vowed never to drive again after she caused the death of Devizes pensioner George Beale.
At Salisbury Magis-trates Court yesterday a tearful Couch was sentenced to a community order of 80 hours’ unpaid work.
Couch, 63, of Parkfield, Devizes, was driving up Bath Road into Devizes when her Citroen Saxo hit Mr Beale as he was walking on the zebra crossing taking his dog, Bertie, for a walk at about 8pm on March 18.
Mr Beale, 87, was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital but died from his injuries five days later.
Couch pleaded guilty to causing Mr Beale’s death by careless driving when she appeared at Salisbury Magistrates Court last month.
Michelle Hewitt, prosecuting, said witness Jack Davis, who was driving behind Couch, said Couch did not stop as Mr Beale was using the crossing.
Police said Mr Beale, who lived in Melbourne Place, would have been in view to Couch for about six seconds before the accident and Couch was driving at between 19 and 23mph when the collision occurred.
A victim impact statement from Mr Beale’s daughter, Christine Potter, was read out in court.
Mrs Potter said her father, a retired bus driver and widower, was relatively fit and healthy for his age, used a walking stick and took his dog for walks twice a day.
She said: “He was well liked and respected in the community. He was a loving father and grandfather who will be sorely missed.”
Couch, who had no previous convictions and had a clean driving licence before this accident, told police she saw Mr Beale’s dog but not Mr Beale. She left the scene of the accident to move her car out of the way but returned and stroked Mr Beale’s arm while paramedics tended to him.
Charles Row, defending, said: “Mrs Couch has no intention of driving ever again. She has sold the car. She told the police in interview “I think about it (the collision) every second of every day and night. I will never get over this and the poor gentleman’s family must be suffering far more than I.”
Couch, a married mother-of-two, came to England from the Phillipines in the 1970s and became a staff nurse, working at Roundway Hospital in Devizes and Charter House in Trowbridge. She took early retirement in 2001 following a stroke two years earlier.
Mr Row handed in references from friends of Couch who described her as “honest, truthful, caring, compassionate and utterly selfless.”
As well as imposing a community order, magistrates disqualified Couch from driving for 12 months and ordered her to pay prosecution costs of £85.