Widow of Harpenden man killed in tragic car accident outside Sainsbury’s calls for regular eye tests for elderly

PUBLISHED: 09:49 04 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:28 04 March 2016

Colin Moxley owned Thorns in Harpenden High Street

Colin Moxley owned Thorns in Harpenden High Street


The widow of a ‘big character’ in Harpenden who was killed by an 83 year old driver last year has called for changes to the law so that elderly drivers are regularly tested.

Joan MitchelmoreJoan Mitchelmore

Colin Moxley, who owned Thorns in Harpenden, was walking on Harpenden High Street in January 2015 when he was hit by Joan Mitchelmore, 83, because she pressed the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.

Mrs Mitchelmore, of The Derrings, Harpenden, who walks with a stick, was on her way to an appointment with an optician when she sent Colin Moxley flying over shopping trolleys outside a supermarket.

The 67-year-old tobacconist and confectioner had left the Santander bank and was walking back to his shop when he was killed.

Mrs Mitchelmore, appeared at St Albans Crown Court to plead guilty to causing death by careless driving. The prosecution accepted her plea of not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. She was of previous good character with no driving convictions.

The aftermath of the scene outside the Sainsbury's where Mr Moxley was killed in January 2015The aftermath of the scene outside the Sainsbury's where Mr Moxley was killed in January 2015

Prosecutor Peter Shaw said Mrs Mitchelmore, who has glaucoma, was driving the automatic grey VW Golf, with her husband Philip as passenger, for an appointment at her opticians at around 11.25 on Tuesday 13 January last year.

The retired accounts worker went along Harpenden High Street before turning right into a small link road. He said: “The only route is to turn left into a one-way road, but it went straight on.

“The car mounted the kerb, hit a bollard and collided with Mr Moxley, a brick planter, and shopping trolleys.”

Members of the public went to the aid of the grandfather of two. Paramedics arrived but after 45 minutes and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Shaw said the accident, which happened outside Sainsbury’s in Bowers Parade, happened in daylight with good visibility. Witnesses heard the engine rev loudly as the speed increased from 8 mile per hour to between 18 and 23 as it struck the victim.

The defendant had pressed the accelerator instead of the brake, he said.

Mrs Mitchelmore and her husband were uninjured. She was very shaken and was heard to say: “Oh my God. Look what I have done.”

In a victim impact statement, which she read to the court, Mr Moxley’s widow Yvonne called for changes to the law so that elderly drivers are regularly tested. She said: “I know in her heart she must have known her reactions were too slow, or her eyesight was too poor or she was getting confused.”

Mrs Moxley said her husband was a “big character” in Harpenden, where he had lived for 40 years. She said members of the public lined the street to watch his funeral cortège and drinkers raised their glasses to him as they went past.

Defending, Karen Dempsey said: “The defendant wishes to extend her sincerest apologies. She thinks about it all of the time.

“She surrendered her licence when she was interviewed and has no intention of driving again.”

Judge Jonathan Carroll said the death of Mr Moxley was an “absolutely devastating tragedy” and passed his condolences to the family.

He described him as a “thoroughly decent man “ who took great pleasure in his life, work, family and grandchildren.

He said: “Mrs Mitchelmore should have braked, and pressed the accelerator by mistake and tragedy ensued.”

The judge made an 18 month Community Order with 18 months supervision. She was banned for driving for 2 years and must take an extended retest if she wishes to regain a licence, but the judge said she realised that was not realistic.

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