THE son of a Shoreham woman who was left brain damaged after being hit by a car has spoken of his shock at the driver’s sentence.
Pauline Willis was hit by a white LDV minibus while on the zebra crossing in Upper Shoreham Road at about 3.30pm on Friday, November 7, last year.
She was on her way home from the dentist and about two-thirds of her way over the crossing when she was hit, knocking her about 30 yards down the road.
Son Richard Willis, of The Street, Shoreham, said: “She literally flew. She took the main impact on her chest, the other injuries came from landing on the road.
“Apart from the head injury, she had 17 broken ribs, a cracked pelvis and had to have a new hip because her hip was smashed.”
Michael Shipham, 62, of Palmer Road, Angmering, pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on February 19. He was fined £73, had to pay £85 costs and had five points on his licence.
I wrote a victim impact statement, in which I relived the whole experience from believing she was going to die, and it looks as if that has been totally ignoredRichard Willis, son of the victim
Mr Willis said: “Where is the justice in that?
“I said at the time I don’t want this bloke hung, drawn and quartered, it was an accident, but I expected him to be taken off the road for a period of time.
“Originally, he was arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and that would have carried a serious sentence. But there was no evidence to prove dangerous driving, so he was charged with driving without due care and attention.
“There is a big jump between the two and there is nothing in between, for example causing serious injury by careless driving –that charge doesn’t exist.”
Mrs Willis, who has just turned 74, was flown by air ambulance to St George’s Hospital in London, where she stayed for about four weeks. She was moved to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton for about five weeks and is now in a rehabilitation unit in Haywards Heath.
“They are trying to get her on her feet again,” explained Mr Willis. “She is recovering from three months lying in a hospital bed.
“She has most of the main functions, she knows who we are and can hold a conversation, but she does get a bit confused at times.
“I wrote a victim impact statement, in which I relived the whole experience from believing she was going to die, and it looks as if that has been totally ignored.
“Apart from the emotional impact, we have had weeks of driving up to London and now to Haywards Heath, which is very expensive.”
As a police driving instructor, Mr Willis said he knew about the responsibility of driving to avoid incidents.
“Standards of driving these days are desperately poor,” he said.
“It is your duty of care to others that you don’t hit them on pedestrian crossings but if the effect is this, it explains why there is an apathy in terms of new standards of driving.
“Driving without due care and attention falls into the category of temporary lack of attention.
“One of the witnesses in the minibus saw her on the crossing but the driver didn’t react at all.
“The impact has been huge. It is day by day.”
Mrs Willis’s husband is a former pilot, so the family moved around a lot when they were young before settling in Brighton. The couple also have a daughter in Brighton and four grandchildren.