A SKIP lorry driver whose vehicle struck and killed an elderly woman who was crossing the road has escaped jail and been banned from driving for 18 months.

Lewis Barber, 33, said he did not see 89-year-old Vera Neil as she crossed the road at the junction of Pentland Avenue with Broomfield Parade in Chelmsford, between a KFC and a Tesco Express, on June 19, 2019.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Barber, who was turning from one road into the other, immediately stopped his vehicle, tried to help Ms Neil and dialled 999.

She was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where she died a week later.

Mark Halsey, prosecuting, said Ms Neil made the journey to the shops “a couple of times a day” and though she walked with a stick she was “sprightly and not frail in any way”.

He said if Barber had leaned forward in the lorry’s cab “he would have had a full view of the pedestrian”.

Mr Halsey added: “She would have been in view for four seconds.”

He said “of necessity” Barber had cut the corner as it was a large vehicle and a tight corner, and the front-offside of the lorry struck Ms Neil.

He said there was no suggestion Barber was driving at an excessive speed, or using a mobile phone.

Judge David Turner QC said: “The criminality here is maybe in essence a second or two of inattention behind the wheel, but a second or two with massive consequences.”

Barber, of Ongar Road, Stondon Massey, admitted at an earlier hearing to causing Ms Neil’s death by careless driving.

The court heard Barber was remorseful, has a 10-year-old son and has struggled with his mental health since the accident.

He was sentenced to an 18-month community order with a mental health treatment requirement and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work at Chelmsford Crown Court today.

The court heard Barber was convicted in December 2020 of a drug driving offence which happened in June 2020, and was banned from driving for 12 months.

He was banned from driving for 18 months for causing Ms Neil’s death by careless driving, with the disqualification period to start on Friday and to overlap the existing 12-month ban for the separate drug driving incident.

He must complete an extended retest if he is to reapply for a driving licence afterwards.