A DENTIST killed a popular retired schoolteacher when she cut a corner in her Mercedes on her way to work at her Leamington practice and knocked her down as she was crossing the road.
Although Samantha Kutty was doing no more than 10mph at the time, 68-year-old Marlene Head was thrown onto the bonnet of the car before hitting her head as she landed on the road.
Mrs Head’s husband of 45 years, Tom, dashed to the scene and accompanied her to hospital where she died without regaining consciousness, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
The tragic collision happened at the entrance of Camberwell Terrace, where Kutty intended to park as she turned up for work at nearby Leamington Dental Practice in Radford Road, on September 27 last year.
The 42-year-old of Maidavale Crescent, Styvechale, Coventry, was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years after pleading guilty to causing Mrs Head’s death by careless driving.
She was also ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work, was banned from driving for three years, after which she will have to take an extended test, and was ordered to pay £550 costs.
Prosecutor Peter Grice said at just after 9am Kutty was driving her Mercedes car along Radford Road to turn right into Camberwell Terrace.
Walking in the opposite direction along Radford Road on her way to her regular yoga class was 68-year-old Mrs Head who began to cross the road.
She was about three-quarters of the way across the junction when Kutty turned right, cutting the corner and driving onto the wrong side of the road as she entered Camberwell Terrace – hitting Mrs Head.
Passing police officers rushed to the scene, and emergency services called. Mrs Head was taken to hospital where she died from a severe head injury without regaining consciousness.
Mr Grice said there were ‘40 pages of social media material,’ with tributes from former pupils and the parents of pupils who had been taught by Mrs Head, a mother of two who had become a grandmother only a month earlier.
Judge Sarah Buckingham said Mrs Head, who had taught at Kineton High School and at St Josephs Convent and Crackley Hall School in Kenilworth, had been ‘extremely popular at a teacher,’ having taught two generations of the same family on occasions.
Richard Baker, defending, said: “These types of cases are of course tragedies, and they are tragedies for the family left behind. May I express my very heartfelt regret on her behalf.”
Of a letter by Kutty which was handed to the judge, he pointed out: “She has written in her letter expressing deep and profound remorse for what happened.”
Mr Baker said Kutty was ‘otherwise an extremely good motorist’ who was described as a steady and careful driver, and she was travelling on a road which was familiar to her.
“She is at a total loss to explain what happened. The only explanation is that she simply failed to see Mrs Head.
Since the fatal collision Kutty, who is also awaiting a decision from the General Dental Council following her conviction, has been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been receiving counselling, he added.
Sentencing Kutty, Judge Buckingham said of Mr Head: “The shock of losing his wife of 45 years has been devastating. It has left a massive void in his life. Whatever sentence I pass will not ease his pain.”
She told Kutty: “Having caused the loss of Mrs Head’s life, it has also had an effect on you, and you have been struggling to come to terms with your actions.
“But the fact remains that as a result of your careless manoeuvre she was thrown onto your bonnet and into the road and suffered catastrophic injuries and died.”
Judge Buckingham said she accepted Kutty’s remorse was genuine, and quoted from her letter in which Kutty said: “I know I cannot take away the pain, but from the depth of my heart I think about Mrs Head and her family every day with the deepest sympathy.”
And the judge added: “There is no doubt your offending is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified, but there are factors which justify the suspending of that sentence.”