Driver looked at phone just before OAP road death
A RECOVERY truck driver knocked down and killed a 91-year-old woman after he took his eyes off the road to look at his mobile phone, a court has heard.
Geoffrey Royle is on trial for allegedly causing the death of Bessie ‘Eliza’ Blatchford by dangerous driving in Pinhoe Road, Exeter, on January 4 last year.
Police closed Pinhoe Road immediately after the collision in which Bessie Blatchford, inset, received fatal injuries
Floral tributes were left to Bessie Blatchford at the crossing in Pinhoe Road, Exeter, near where she suffered fatal injuries in a collision with a truck driven by Geoffrey Royle
Royle admitted receiving a text message on his mobile phone from his wife and looking at it for around five seconds just before hitting Mrs Blatchford on a crossing.
The 63-year-old of Exeter Hill, Cullompton, denies causing death by dangerous driving.
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Royle was driving a seven-and-a-half tonne Isuzu single transporter truck along Pinhoe Road towards the city centre when Mrs Blatchford stepped off the pavement and was knocked down at around 1.50pm near the shops in Whipton.
Exeter Crown Court heard the lights at the traffic signal-controlled crossing were green for Royle as he approached the crossing, and red for pedestrians.
Mrs Blatchford was 3.4m into the road when Royle hit her.
The jury heard had she made one more step she would have cleared the truck.
She suffered multiple injuries and never regained consciousness. She died a short time later in hospital.
Prosecutor Richard Crabb told the court as he opened the case yesterday Note: mon that the text had distracted the driver.
He said: “Mr Royle failed to see her in sufficient time to take evasive action because he was distracted by his mobile phone.”
Mrs Blatchford, who was living in Whipton at the time of her death, was seen to stop suddenly in Hill Lane moments before the collision and walk back towards Pinhoe Road to the crossing.
Witnesses said it looked like she had forgotten something and had turned to go back for it. Mr Crabb said: “She should not have crossed, but she did.”
Royle told the police he had seen an elderly lady on the pavement walking towards the road when his mobile phone went off. He said he glanced at it then looked back up and the lady was right in front of the vehicle. He braked but could not avoid her.
He told police: “I took my eye off the road. I did not touch the phone.”
A witness travelling behind Royle said the truck was being driven sensibly prior to the crash. She told police she had braked when she saw Mrs Blatchford.
Passer-by Dr Jason Fern-Smith had recognised Mrs Blatchford as a patient from his surgery and had tried to help her as the emergency services were called.
The trial continues.