Learner driver left woman with life-changing injuries after '4mph' Sunderland accident

A provisional driver without L-plates left a pedestrian with life-changing injuries after hitting her at just 4mph, a court heard.

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 6:00 am

Sara Kellett, 44, of Rose Street East, Penshaw, struck the 68-year-old woman as she crossed the junction of Newbottle Street and Grey Street, Houghton.

The impact on March 16 left her usually outgoing victim with a broken right femur, a chipped left ankle bone and a badly-damaged right knee.

In a victim personal statement read to South Tyneside magistrates, the woman, who requires long-term physiotherapy, said: “The incident has left a once very active life-loving woman as someone who is barely recognisable to people.

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The incident took place near the junction of Newbottle Street, in Houghton, with Grey Street.

“I’m now having to be looked after by my family. I live in constant fear of falling and causing damage to my legs.”

Kellett, who has since passed her test, admitted driving the Fiat carelessly.

Prosecutor Grace Taylor said: “The complainant was hit by the defendant’s vehicle when she was crossing the road.

“She states that she saw the vehicle but did not have time to react. The car impacted with her right leg, knocking her to the ground.

“She spent two weeks in hospital for her broken femur and needed surgery to reconstruct her femur and knee.

“Ms Kellett was driving the vehicle. She was a provisional licence holder. Her vehicle was not displaying L-plates.

“Ms Kellett was crying and saying, ‘I can’t believe it’s happened, it’s not my fault’.

“It seems that the defendant has been going too fast and has collided with the complainant.”

Kellett was being supervised by friend Lisa Lowden, 45, of Burnside Avenue, Houghton, who appeared in court beside her as both initially pleaded guilty to driving without a licence.

These charges, however, were withdrawn after court checks suggested that Ms Lowden was entitled to drive again without resitting her test following an earlier drink-driving ban.

In her defence for careless driving, Kellett insisted: “I wasn’t speeding, I was only going at 4mph. I was really sorry immediately.

“A car came one way and I went another, and I waited for a bus to go by and she stepped out. It was just an accident.”

Margaret Burns, chair of the bench, said: “This is still a serious offence. What I’ve seen is that it’s had a really detrimental effect on the lady’s life.”

Kellett was given six penalty points, fined £80 and must pay £85 court costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

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