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11 November 2013, 18:39
A 22-year-old woman wept in court as a jury was told how she caused the death of an 82-year-old lollipop man who was "scooped up'' on to her car and thrown into the road after she was in collision with him having been blinded by bright sunlight.
Lauren Paul, of Ramblers Way, Waterlooville, Hampshire, denies a charge of causing the death of Raymond Elsmore by careless driving, whom she collided with as she drove to work at a sixth form college.
Mr Elsmore had worked for about 10 years helping children at Queens Inclosure Primary School in Waterlooville.
Matthew Lawson, prosecuting at Portsmouth Crown Court, described how Mr Elsmore had been escorting a pedestrian, Toni Ponting, who was pregnant at the time, across Tempest Avenue, Waterlooville, at about 3.05am on Wednesday, December 5 last year when the accident happened.
He said that Mr Elsmore had been stood in the southbound carriageway holding up his lollipop sign when the Nissan Micra driven by Paul was in collision with him.
Mr Lawson said: "At that point he was struck from behind by a Nissan Micra driven by the defendant, Lauren Paul.
"Tragically Mr Elsmore was seriously injured in the accident and later passed away in hospital as a result of the injuries he received.''
He said that Ms Ponting "saw the Nissan Micra approach from behind, instead of slowing or stopping, it ran right into Mr Elsmore.
"Mr Elsmore was scooped up on to the car which shattered the windscreen, he was thrown forward on to the road as the Nissan Micra braked and stopped.''
Mr Lawson said that when Ms Ponting asked Paul what had happened, she replied that she couldn't see.
Another person who arrived shortly afterwards, heard Paul, who was hysterical, say that the sun was in her eyes.
The court heard that the defendant added: "I didn't see him, I would have stopped if I had seen him.''
Paul was also heard to say that her windscreen had misted up and she had been trying to demist it, Mr Lawson said.
Mr Lawson said that Paul told a police officer: "I was driving along the road, the sun was low and my screen was starting to mist.
"I pulled my visor down and heard a bang. I never saw the guy from first to last.''
Mr Elsmore was taken by air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital where he died of chest and head injuries suffered in the accident.
Mr Lawson said: "Sadly the injuries were incompatible with survival.''
Mr Lawson added that the police sergeant "noted that the southbound carriageway was direct into the sun which was very low and blinding.''
During a police interview, Paul gave a statement saying that she was travelling to South Downs College where she works.
Mr Lawson said that she told police that: "She had left the house to drive back to work, she was not in a hurry and was feeling alert and not stressed. She was familiar with the route having travelled it many times before.''
He continued: "However as she was driving down Tempest Avenue, she was driving directly into the sun which was low in the sky, so she had slowed down, she believed her speed was about 25 mph.
"She had put the driver's sun visor down and taken steps to adjust her driving position.''
He added: "There was suddenly a bang and something seemed to hit her windscreen, at this point she performed an emergency stop and saw the body roll down the bonnet and land on the road.''
He said that she said she was in "severe shock'' after the accident and added that hearing of Mr Elsmore's death had a "traumatic effect'' on her.
He said that she told officers: "She was desperately sorry for what had happened to the gentleman and the loss his family had suffered.
"She couldn't say where the gentleman had come from and hadn't seen him him, possibly she had been blinded by the sun for a second or two in the approach to the accident.''
Mr Lawson said an accident investigator, who visited the crash scene, experienced how the bright sun had the effect of "blending in'' with the colour of a colleague's high visibility jacket similar to that worn by Mr Elsmore at the time of the accident.
Investigations established she had been travelling between 21mph and 28mph.
But Mr Lawson said that the Highway Code stated that a driver should "slow down or if necessary stop'' if dazzled by bright sunlight.
He added: "The defendant's driving at the time fell below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver in all the circumstances.''
Ms Ponting said that she had arrived early to pick up her child from the school.
She told the court that Mr Elsmore had not seen the car approaching it before it struck him without slowing down.
She said: "My blood was boiling, at the time being pregnant and hormonal, I was enraged and confused.
"I walked across the road towards Ray and I looked at him. I was very angry.''
She said that the driver was "shaken, very upset, distraught''.
She asked the driver: "Could you not see him?'' She said that Paul replied that she couldn't see.
She admitted swearing at her and added: "I told her she shouldn't be driving.''
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.