School crash driver found guilty
9:58pm Wednesday 21st May 2014 in News
THE driver who crashed into a lollipop lady and children outside Rhws Primary School has been found guilty of driving without due care and attention.
Robert Bell, 62, of Beaufort Way, Rhoose was fined £100, received four points on his licence and ordered to pay £1130 costs for what a judge called a "momentary lapse of concentration" as a result of a coughing fit while behind the wheel.
The crash, in June last year, saw lollipop lady Karin Williams act as a human shield to protect children, suffering multiple broken bones and spending 10 weeks in hospital.
Two parents and five children were also injured in the crash with one nine-year-old girl suffering life threatening injuries, spending three days on life support and more than two months in intensive care.
Cardiff Magistrates' Court heard that Bell had been driving his Audi A3 on the morning of the accident when he began coughing. Bell, who was wearing flip-flops, lost his footing and accelerated instead of braking, hit a speed bump and careered into pedestrians before the car flipped onto its roof.
Witnesses recounted retired engineer Bell being pulled from the car with a head wound asking if he had been speeding.
During the three day trial Bell had claimed that he had become unconscious during the coughing fit, remembering nothing of the incident until he was pulled from the vehicle.
District Judge Bodfan Jenkins agreed with witnesses who saw Bell's eyes open while he made attempts to steer during the crash.
He told Bell that he believed that up until the accident he had been driving "utterly appropriately" until he started coughing and lost control.
He said: "It was a misjudgement at low speed and a loss of control with horrendous consequences.
"This is a tragic case, much more so for those who were injured than for you.
"I don't think for a moment that I'm dealing with a man who was driving like a lunatic or anything of that nature.
"You were coughing and up until that point you had been driving utterly appropriately.
"I don't think your footwear had anything to do with this incident no matter how unwise it may be to wear them for driving.
"The tragedy of the injuries suffered by some of those injured is something you will have to live with in any event."