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Elderly driver, 83, was ‘muddled’ when he killed young mum in collision

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 December 2014

Geoffrey Lederman outside Blackfriars Crown Court. Picture: Dieter Perry.

Geoffrey Lederman outside Blackfriars Crown Court. Picture: Dieter Perry.

Dieter Perry

An 83-year-old driver is likely to have been “muddled” and “confused” due to a heart problem when he lost control of his car and ploughed into a young mother, a trial heard this week.

Desreen Brooks and husband Ben Brooks-Dutton.Desreen Brooks and husband Ben Brooks-Dutton.

Geoffrey Lederman suffers from a heart condition, known as arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, which may have caused him to veer onto a pavement in West Hampstead and kill Desreen Brooks, a medical expert told Blackfriars Crown Court on Monday.

Consultant neurologist Dr Dominic Heaney, who examined Lederman after the incident, said he believed a loss of blood flow to the brain, caused by an arrhythmia, accounted for the pensioner’s erratic driving.

Lederman is accused of causing the death of Ms Brooks, 33, and seriously injuring another woman, Amy Werner, by dangerous driving on November 10, 2012.

Ms Werner, an American student who was 23 at the time, suffered serious injuries which were considered life-threatening at the time and left her with no sight in her right eye.

Lederman also scraped a pram carrying Ms Brook’s two-year-old son Jackson, which her husband Ben Brooks-Dutton managed to steer clear of the oncoming car, according to prosecutor Tom Kark QC.

The court heard that CCTV footage of the moments before the collision showed Lederman stopping outside West Hampstead Tube station before pulling off at high speed, which Dr Heaney described as looking like “confused behaviour, the behaviour of someone who is slightly muddled”.

Dr Heaney said there was evidence of Lederman’s urinary incontinence at the scene and the pensioner could not remember “20 to 25 seconds” leading up to the collision, which were both indicative of a confused state.

Lederman, now 85, had been returning home to Hamilton Terrace, in Maida Vale, after playing in a seven-hour bridge tournament on the night of the incident.

Firefighters had to cut him out of his 1982 Mercedes before he was taken to hospital.

Last week, Mr Kark argued Lederman lost control of his car and ran into a pedestrian-packed pavement in West End Lane at around 8.30pm because he confused the accelerator for the break.

He denies there is any evidence Lederman was suffering from a “medical aberration”.

Lederman has been allowed not to attend his own trial due to health reasons.

He denies causing death by dangerous driving and GBH. The trial continues.

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