An 84-year-old man was using his cane to help him slowly walk over a pedestrian crossing on a suburban Canberra street when a speeding driver knocked him flying over her roof.
Jennifer June Hutchison, 62, has admitted causing his death and her lawyer has told the ACT Magistrates Court, “there’s not a day that she wishes she couldn’t turn back the clock”.
She had been speeding at 64 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on Lyneham’s Brigalow Street at about 5:00 pm on 18 June 2021.
Richard John McNamara stood beside the road for 17 seconds before using his walking cane to assist him as he crossed the pedestrian crossing, which is on a straight section of the street near the Lyneham shops. She then crashed into him while driving at 32 km/h.
Hutchison pulled over while members of the public gave him first aid and she told a bystander, “I didn’t see him”.
Paramedics arrived, found Mr McNamara’s injuries to be life-threatening and took him to hospital.
He died of his injuries on 24 June, six days after the incident.
Hutchison admitted she had been speeding, failed to see Mr McNamara and failed to break in time. While she initially indicated she would fight her charge, she eventually pleaded guilty to negligent driving causing death before her sentencing started on Thursday (28 July).
Horrifying closed-circuit television footage of the incident was played to the court, in which Mr McNamara could be seen slowly entering the striped pedestrian crossing before Hutchison crashed into him and he was knocked flying over her car and onto her roof before falling to the ground.
Her lawyer Andrew Byrnes said the incident “can only be described as a tragedy”.
He said at the time of the crash, daylight was fading, the weather was overcast, it was drizzling with rain, the road was wet and she was on the receiving end of glare from the lights on other cars.
“At the end of the day, she simply and unfortunately did not see Mr McNamara,” he said.
But prosecutor Trent Hickey said if there were factors like fading daylight and glare, then “all of that just screams ‘slow down’, doesn’t it?”
It had been raining, the road was wet and it was dark, which meant it was highly inappropriate for her to be driving at that speed, he said.
He also said there was a primary school nearby and the crash happened at a time when children could be out.
Mr Hickey argued there were high levels of negligence involved due to the length of time Mr McNamara should have been visible to Hutchison.
Mr Byrnes said his client, who works at Brindabella Christian College as a personal assistant, had developed a phobia due to the accident that meant she now avoids driving.
She has stopped using her car and relies on public transport and her family to get around.
Mr Byrnes asked for her to receive a suspended sentence or an intensive corrections order, saying she had no criminal history and was “deeply saddened” when she learned Mr McNamara had died.
Magistrate Robert Cook will hand down his sentence on 4 August.