Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Crash-Death Pensioner Is Shown Mercy; Best Friend Died after Driver Made a 'Catastrophic' Error

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Crash-Death Pensioner Is Shown Mercy; Best Friend Died after Driver Made a 'Catastrophic' Error

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT gareth.lightfoot@reachplc.com @GazetteCourt

A PENSIONER who caused her best friend's death in a car crash was shown mercy after a judge heard from members of the victim's family that she had "suffered enough".

Jean Barnett, 79, made the "catastrophic" error of driving down a slip-road the wrong way as she took friends to a birthday celebration.

A VW Transporter van hit her Toyota Avensis as she tried to correct her mistake and join traffic on the A174 Parkway. The crash killed back seat passenger Linda Pyers, 71.

Members of the muchloved great-grandmother's family made statements asking Teesside's top judge to show compassion.

Prosecutor Nick Dry said Barnett turned left on to the exit slip road from the A174 eastbound, against no-entry signs, just before 7pm on January 26.

She drove steadily and passed oncoming vehicles.

One driver had to drive on to the hard shoulder to avoid her then flashed headlights and waved her hands trying to alert Barnett to the peril ahead.

Barnett realised her mistake and crossed chevrons trying to get on to the dual carriageway.

Moments later her car was struck while it was "almost stationary" across the road, facing the central reservation barrier.

The van driver swerved and braked hard but could not avoid a collision with the Avensis which had "appeared from nowhere".

Road markings were faded and the light to one of the signs was defective on the winter's night, Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday Mrs Pyers was unconscious, suffered chest injuries and could not be resuscitated at hospital.

The court heard moving statements from children of Mrs Pyers, a mum-of-six with 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, telling of their enduring heartbreak.

Barnett, of Sunnyside, Coulby Newham, admitted causing death by dangerous driving, her first conviction.

Andrew Nuttall, defending, said Barnett had been in shock ever since she learned of the "huge loss" of her friend, with whom she had enjoyed Christmas and holidays. …

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