Elderly driver, 85, convicted of causing death of young mother by dangerous driving

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

Geoffrey Lederman outside 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 found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Desreen Brooks and her husband Ben Brooks-Dutton.

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

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

He was found 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 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.

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, prosecutor Tom Kark QC 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.

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.

Mr Kark denied there was any evidence Lederman was suffering from a “medical aberration”.

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

Det Sgt Cheryl Frost, of the Metropolitan Police’s Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This has been a tragic case. Lederman confused the pedals of the car and instead of braking as he approached a bend too fast, he accelerated into a group of pedestrians.

“Desreen Brooks suffered horrific injuries and died at the scene, witnessed by her devastated husband and young son. There would have been little, if anything, she could have done to avoid being hit.

“I would like to pay tribute to Desreen’s family, as well as Amy and her family, for the courage they have shown during this time, prolonged by Lederman’s refusal to plead guilty and take responsibility for his actions.”

Lederman will be sentenced on December 22.