Unlawful killing verdict in case of teenager run down by elderly driver

A FORMER Sandringham School pupil who died after being mown down on a pavement by an 87-year-old motorist days after police tried to dissuade him from driving was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Cassie McCord, 16, of Colchester, died after suffering fatal head injuries when a car driven by Colin Horsfall mounted the pavement twice and crashed into her and another pedestrian as they walked along Head Street in the town just before 9am on February 7, 2011.

Her death resulted in a campaign for Cassie’s Law being launched by her family in St Albans and Colchester to give the police power to temporarily suspend driving licences of motorists they feel are unfit to drive.

An inquest in Chelmsford last week was told that only three days before Cassie was struck, Horsfall had mistaken the pedals as he drove in to a supermarket filling station.

He had entered the station in Colchester the wrong way, via the exit, mounted the kerb and collided with some trees.

After that incident he was advised not to drive his automatic Vauxhall Astra any more, and was told that Essex Police would be asking the DVLA to suspend his licence. But police had no power to temporarily take it away.

Just three days later Horsfall drove on to the pavement in Head Street.

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CCTV footage showed him suddenly swerve towards pedestrians who jumped out of his way but he ploughed into Cassie and one of her friends outside a clothes store.

Horsfall told police at the scene that he had put his foot on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: “I bear in mind the previous incident a few days earlier when Mr Horsfall was advised not to drive. The court has also borne in mind the manner of his driving on February 7, over quite a distance, mounting the pavement twice, extremely recklessly.”

After the hearing Cassie’s mother, Jackie McCord, said: “It’s the right verdict and we will carry on with Cassie’s Law until we get the law changed.”

She described her daughter, born in Hemel Hempstead and schooled in St Albans, as a vibrant, bubbly girl.

Cassie’s brother, Sam, spent time in the centres of St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead late last year collecting signatures for a petition calling on the government to change the law.

Sam, of Drakes Drive, St Albans, said at the time that his sister would still be alive now if the police had had the power to withhold Horsfall’s licence after his first crash.

The McCord family aims to collect 100,000 signatures to force a debate in the House of Commons.

Essex police are backing the campaign by actively lobbying for a change in law to help officers protect the public by having the power to suspend a licence if driving standards fall well below acceptable levels.

Horsfall died from pneumonia three months after the accident. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death in his case.

An e-petition for Cassie’s Law is available at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/21244