Death crash driver breaks down in tears

Timothy Collis, of Cromford, who appeared in court at Nottingham charged with dangerous driving after the death of pensioner Florence Crofts at Ambergate in 2011.
Timothy Collis, of Cromford, who appeared in court at Nottingham charged with dangerous driving after the death of pensioner Florence Crofts at Ambergate in 2011.

A MOTORIST and his partner broke down in tears as they recalled the night their car was in collision with an elderly woman.

Timothy Collis said the image of Florence Jean Crofts, 78, on the bonnet of the Volkswagen Beetle he was driving was “burnt” into his memory “like a DVD”.

He denies charges of dangerous driving and careless driving and told jurors the incident was “an accident” which happened “out of the blue”.

The court previously heard that Miss Crofts was crossing the A6, in Ambergate, to reach a church where she was due to see a pantomime when the collision happened on February 24 last year.

Collis, 45, of Cromford Bridge, told Nottingham Crown Court how he and his partner of 12 years, Ryan Phelps, were returning home from Belper after having dinner at his parents’ house.

He said he was driving his mother’s car – which he had been using for about three weeks – and had been in no hurry to get home.

He also said he recalled overtaking vehicles on the route home but was not aware of annoying any other drivers and felt his manoeuvres had been “completely safe”.

When asked if he had been travelling at 54mph, the speed the prosecution had previously estimated he was at least doing at the time of the collision, he said: “There is absolutely no way on earth I was doing any speed like that.”

He said Miss Crofts appeared “out of nowhere”, he hit the brake and then was in collision with her.

Mr Phelps also told the court how there had been no time for Collis to do anything to avoid Miss Crofts. On Thursday an expert told the court the driver was not speeding when he was in collision with an elderly woman crossing a road.

Former police officer Mark Littler disputed prosecution claims that Collis had reached 54mph in his Volkswagen Beetle.

Mr Littler said on Thursday that after calculating the distance it took for the car to stop, he estimated it was doing about 40mph at the crash scene – the legal limit.

The crash investigator said an incline might have added to problems in seeing Miss Crofts, who was in front of the car for less than a second before the impact on the A6 at Ambergate at about 7pm.

Mr Littler told Nottingham Crown Court: “Cars going towards Matlock are being blinded by vehicles going up the slope towards them.

“Where headlights are being dipped they are pointing towards drivers coming toward them.”

Mr Littler questioned the value of a police test, using a Ford SMax car with its advanced braking system turned off.

He said the 11-year-old crash car had ABS and he would have switched it on for any road test.

Mr Littler checked European Safety Standards for cars and found the Beetle had a low rating. “In other words, it is not very safe to pedestrian lower and upper legs. That was in 2001,” he said.

He also told the jury he believed Miss Crofts’ body was carried on the bonnet and not thrown off, saying that would affect police calculations. “There is nothing in the paperwork which suggests it has been considered,” he added.

The trial continues.