Family of accident victim in inquest appeal for driver

The family of an elderly woman who was accidentally run over by her neighbour did not want the driver prosecuted as she had been the victim’s “lifeline”.

Lena Cobb, 87, died after being struck by her friend Pamela Havercroft’s car as she reversed out of her parking spot in their quiet Beverley cul de sac last May. The next-door neighbours from Inglefield Close usually went shopping together once a week.

An inquest in Hull heard that Mrs Havercroft “never saw Lena”, who usually waited to be picked up from her house.

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She told police she heard a noise when she reversed: “It was just like a bottle tipping over in a boot. It was like a little thud you wouldn’t think anything of.”

Mrs Havercroft, 78, only realised what had happened when she got out of the car to clear leaves from the windscreen.

Mrs Cobb, who had been twice widowed and was “switched on, extremely smart and house-proud”, died from head injuries in hospital a short time later.

Grandson Darin Quaintance said: “Granny always spoke so highly of her...Because the family was so well spread, Pamela was her lifeline. We regard her as an angel because she gave her gift beyond price – her independence.”

He did not want her prosecuted, he said in a statement read to the inquest: “We have lost a family member, Pamela has lost a very close friend. There’s nothing the criminal justice system can do to bring her back.”

An inspection found the car in an unroadworthy condition because of a severely worn front tyre caused by “multiple contacts” with kerbs, but it had not contributed to the accident.

Mrs Cobb had also raised concerns about Mrs Havercroft’s driving after she reversed into another car in a supermarket car park the previous year. Mrs Havercroft told police it had been “a knock for knock”, and the other woman had backed into her.

Accident investigator John Rusted said both women could have done more. He said: “Safe use of the highway is rightly viewed as a shared responsibility. Ultimately whether by error or misjudgment Mrs Cobb has perhaps unexpectedly entered the path of a reversing vehicle and the driver of the vehicle has failed to detect the obstruction to the rear of her vehicle.” He said Mrs Havercroft’s view would have been obscured by part of the car’s internal framework, but a properly adjusted mirror would have eliminated the blind spot.

Afterwards the family said they were pleased Mrs Havercroft had surrendered her licence, but could not forgive her for not attending the inquest. They said they could never erase the “picture of her being dragged along that dirty road under her neighbour’s car”.

Verdict: Accidental death.