Driver, 85, jailed and banned for life over death of young mum

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

Geoffrey Lederman leaving Blackfriars Crown Court. Picture: Dieter Perry. - Credit: Dieter Perry

An 85-year-old man who lost control of his car and ploughed into a young mother has been jailed for 18 months and given a lifetime driving ban for causing death by dangerous driving.

Desreen Brooks and husband Ben Dutton-Brooks.

Desreen Brooks and husband Ben Dutton-Brooks. - Credit: Archant

Geoffrey Lederman was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court today after his 1982 Mercedes mounted a pavement in West Hampstead and mowed down Desreen Brooks on November 10, 2012.

Earlier this month, a jury convicted him of causing death by dangerous driving and not guilty of GBH in relation to American student Amy Werner, another pedestrian who was seriously injured in the crash.

Ms Brooks, 33, was killed instantly in the collision and Ms Werner, who was 23 at the time, suffered serious injuries which left her brain-damaged and blind 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.

The pensioner 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 car before he was taken to hospital.

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During the trial, Lederman’s lawyer argued his client had become “muddled” and “confused” in the lead up to the collision due to a lack of blood flow to his brain caused by a heart condition.

Today, Judge Peter Clarke QC said Lederman had “made the cardinal error of mistaking the accelerator for the brake” which led to him mounting a pedestrian-packed pavement in West End Lane at a speed of 54mph and hitting Ms Brooks.

Lederman was allowed not to attend his own trial due to concerns about the impact it would have on his health.

Sentencing Lederman to 18 months in prison and banning him from driving for life, Judge Clarke said: “The sentence I am about to pass is not in order to make an example of you, but it must be understood that old age cannot be seen as any excuse or mitigation for dangerous or even careless driving.

“An elderly driver who knows or should acknowledge that he or she is losing his or her faculties is no less a danger than a drunken driver who knows the same.”