A RETIRED doctor accused of causing the death of an infirm elderly pedestrian by careless driving has been cleared after the case against him collapsed.

Former William Howard School art teacher Penny Bains, 72, died from medical complications nine days after she was in a collision with a car as she attempted to walk over a puffin crossing at Main Street, Brampton, shortly after 5pm on December 20, 2018.

Wearing dark clothing, she was still crossing the road as the lights changed from red to green, the court heard.

The driver of the Ford C-Max car involved, Dr Roger Williams, denied causing her death by careless driving.

He was found not guilty after an application to the judge from defence lawyer Mark Shepherd.

Mr Shepherd told Judge Nicholas Barker that vital evidence in the case was lost and a police reconstruction of the accident had "real potential to mislead the jury" and so render the trial unfair. This was because that reconstruction was carried out in dry weather and on a night with clear visibility.

But at the time of the accident, it was dark and raining and visibility was poor.

The defence also argued that the police actor involved in the reconstruction bore "no physical resemblance" to Ms Bains, while background features at the scene did not replicate those on the day.

In his ruling, Judge Barker said: "To ask the jury to draw an clear conclusion from the reconstruction that they can be sure the defendant would have been able to see Ms Bains and so must have been careless when not doing so, is in my judgement a step too far."

He excluded the reconstruction evidence from the trial.

The judge's ruling also assessed the impact on the case of lost evidence and how the police traffic expert involved was left "deeply frustrated" by the poor quality of the investigation.

Judge Barker said: "I am satisfied... that the quality of this investigation was very poor." This included CCTV footage from the Co-op store near the accident scene being lost, said the judge. The production of statements by attending police officers nine to eleven months after the event...undermines their credibility on significant points in evidence," continued the judge.

The traffic expert was dissatisfied by the explanations for the failure to obtain the Co-op footage and felt he was not being told the truth, said the judge. The police expert accepted his attempts to guide an investigating officer as to the contents of his statement were “misguided."

The judge said the traffic expert accepted he was trying to manage what [the investigating officer} had put in his statement and so "overstepped the line".

The judge continued: "He struck me as good police officer who was put in a very difficult position by the failures of others. This, however, does not undue the errors which his actions have caused." In summary, the judge said the officer's "opinion evidence" should be excluded.

The judge added: "There is no doubt that the police failed in their duty to obtain this evidence.

"The loss of it does impact upon the potential evidence which would have been available to both sides. However, I am far from satisfied that the loss of this evidence goes so far such that it can properly be said that Mr Williams cannot have a fair trial."

After the ruling, the prosecution offered no evidence.

An earlier hearing heard that the puffin crossing involved has sensors which are supposed to detect whether a pedestrian is still crossing the road, and so prevent the lights changing back to green. However, the sensor for one side of that road was not working, and as a result the “lights just went through their usual sequence irrespective of pedestrian presence”.

After the tragedy, Dr Williams, of Hethersgill, near Brampton, told police: “I just didn’t see her. I don’t know why not but I didn’t.”