A Tesla driver whose carelessness caused the death of a much-loved great gran in Cheltenham has been banned from driving for two years and given a suspended jail term. After hitting 77-year-old dog walker Angela Crinion in his electric car Julian Dable was told by a witness that he had been driving too fast, to which he replied: “I know.”
Mrs Crinion was badly injured in the collision and died in hospital 17 days later, Gloucester Crown Court was told yesterday (Wednesday, February 16). In a statement to the court, Mrs Crinion’s daughters said: “Our mother’s accident was completely devastating to us, as it happened just two weeks after our father had died.
“Our mother was central to holding everything together in the family. We had only just finalised our father’s funeral just days prior to the terrible accident. While our mother was intensive care, we had to postpone his funeral, which left us unable to grieve properly for our father.”
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Dable, of London Road, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mrs Crinion by careless driving in London Road, Cheltenham on March 21, 2021. Prosecutor Greg Gordon said Dable was driving a Tesla Model 3 along College Road and was approaching the junction with London Road and Hewlett Road, which is controlled by traffic lights.
“At 10.58am he drove into the right lane at the same time as the lights were changing to amber and red. He then cut across the junction at an angle toward London Road, at which point witnesses describe a heavy impact as he collided with Mrs Crinion.
“She was treated on the footpath by members of the public who rallied round to try and comfort her while waiting for an ambulance. Her dog was curled up between her legs while she was being attended to.”
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“Three off-duty medical staff – an emergency care assistant, a paramedic and a doctor – were passing at the time and helped at the scene before the ambulance arrived.
“When the doctor moved the dog he saw that Mrs Crinion had suffered a major fracture to her right ankle and realised it would probably have to be amputated. He noted that she was also suffering from numerous other injuries.”
Mr Gordon told the court: “Mrs Crinion was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol by ambulance and was diagnosed with a broken left ankle and multiple fractures to her pelvis. She was immediately taken into theatre and underwent two major surgeries and was placed into a medically induced coma.
“But, following surgery, Mrs Crinion suffered a heart attack and her condition deteriorated. She contracted pneumonia while in hospital. She died on April 7, 17 days after the accident.
“The cause of Mrs Crinion’s death was documented as hospital-acquired pneumonia and multiple traumatic injuries. After the collision Dable immediately parked his car, which had a cracked windscreen, and was described as being ‘deflated and in shock.’
“A member of the public challenged Dable and shouted at him ‘You were driving too fast,’ to which he replied ‘I know.’ The police subjected Dable to roadside breath and drug tests, which were negative, and the vehicle was found to be mechanically sound.
“Dable told police that he thought he had gone through a green light and turned right but had seen the pedestrian crossing the road too late to react any sooner. Dable said that he did apply his brakes, but it was effectively too late to prevent the collision. Dable admitted straight away he was at fault and had caused the collision.”
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Judge Ian Lawrie QC interjected: “Whether the traffic lights were green or not, the driver has an obligation to make sure it is clear to cross and give way to any pedestrians in the road.”
The court heard that a driver in front of Dable said he had been travelling along College Road at the speed limit and that the Tesla behind him had caught up with him very quickly so he assumed it must have been doing more than 30mph.
Other witnesses seeing the Tesla approach the traffic lights stated that it was ‘dangerous’ and one said that the driver appeared to be in a rush, adding: “He accelerated very quickly to get across the junction before other vehicles. I believe he cut the corner as he turned into London Road. A second witness stated that Dable was driving too fast and appeared to be in a hurry.”
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In their statement to the court, Mrs Crinion’s daughters said: “Our mother was the heart of our family. The family home was where we would all gather for regular get-togethers on special occasions. She was always available for a chat or to give advice.
“She was a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She had a wonderful relationship with all her family. She especially enjoyed being with her great-grandson when he was born in January 2020. It was a great joy for her.
“Our mother will be remembered for being very happy, active and social who loved spending time with friends and family. She had many longstanding friendships that she particularly enjoyed.
“She was healthy and took her dog for regular walks into town to meet up with friends. Our mother had left the home we shared that morning on March 21, 2021 to walk her dog, but she never returned.”
The scuff marks left on the road were later analysed by police collision investigators and concluded that Dable had cut the junction and had not entered it from the proper angle. The court was told that Dable had been convicted two months before the accident for speeding on the motorway.
Matthew Kerrish-Jones, defending, said: “These events were obviously very tragic. Regrettably, it was an error of judgement by Dable. This was a careless manoeuvre in which he failed to see Mrs Crinion until the last moment.
“He stopped immediately and made full and frank admissions to the police officers attending the scene of the accident. There was no suggestion that he was in any way distracted at the time of impact and was not under the influence of anything at the time.
“As this court has heard, the instance of bad driving was over a very short distance and it lasted just a matter of seconds. Dable was however driving an electric Tesla car, which is a quiet vehicle with no engine noise. It is a possibility that Mrs Crinion may not have heard the vehicle as she was crossing the road.
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“Unfortunately it is quite common today for pedestrians not to hear electric vehicles. Dable has a stable life and he is an intelligent man with a strong sense of duty. He is very remorseful about what he did and the effect it has had on the victim’s family.
“The collision has also affected Dable as he has been taking anti-depressants since the accident. He is a generous man who competes in marathons and bike rides for various charities, for which he has raised over £10,000.
“When Dable was told that Mrs Crinion had died he sent the family a condolence card expressing his remorse. He was a man who was brought up to own up to something if he ever did anything wrong.”
What Julian Dable told the court
Dable said in a statement read out in court: “It is with an overwhelming sense of regret, grief and shame that I find myself at the centre of these tragic events. The loss of life is not without emotional stress.
The collision was a consequence of events on that fateful day that has delivered this truly tragic outcome. If I could magically turn back time, I would do so, to change the horror of that day.
“I can only imagine the pain and the anxiety Mrs Crinion’s family suffered when she was admitted to hospital only to pass away 17 days later. Due to my own circumstances, I understand the effect the loss of close family members has on people and I can understand their anger and hurt towards me.
“Such pain was no doubt compounded by the pandemic measures being taken while she was being treated at the hospital. I would also like to express my sorrow and regret to my own family for the shame I have put them through. This has had an effect on us all. I truly regret my actions of that day.”
(Image: Jason Scriven)
Judge Lawrie told Dable: “I’ve got little doubt that your profound sense of remorse about the untimely death of Mrs Crinion and your responsibility for her death weighs very heavily on you. Your actions cross the custody threshold. However, a court is a less than perfect foil to deal with deep grief.
“It is understandable that when this position is reached, when somebody dies before their time, their family would expect an echo of the pain they are feeling reflected in your punishment. Often prison is viewed as the appropriate punishment.
“And whilst this is entirely understandable reaction, sentencing has to be done within the guidelines for which many material factors that come into play. Your best mitigation came from you as you admitted being responsible for the collision at the time of the incident. You confronted your guilt immediately.”
The judge continued: “The main factor leading to the collision was your speed at the time. This followed closely on from receiving a speeding ticket, which shows you are sometimes careless about the way you drive.
“You made a material misjudgement approaching that junction. You failed to observe and see the deceased crossing the road and therefore collided with her.
“You have a responsibility to ensure that at all times you cross junctions like this in a safe manner. The incident covers a very short period of time and distance.
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“It is clear from your statement that you demonstrate a lot of remorse and you are now paying a heavy price for your actions. You do a lot of things in your life like your charity work, which shows a different side of you.
“In sentencing you, I have to strike a balance between punishment and custody, which should only be used as a last resort.”
The judge sentenced Dable to a prison sentence of 30 weeks, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, pay court costs of £340 and a victim surcharge of £156. Dable was disqualified from driving for two years and will have to take an extended retest before getting his licence back.
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