Barbara Phipps was struck by a lorry driven by William Magee as he pulled away from his parking position and across the road in the middle of Teynham. The incident was captured on CCTV and was deemed unsuitable to be shown in court.
Magee was apparently unaware of the incident until staff at the distribution centre phoned him some minutes later to inform him of an incident; he replied, “oh my god! I haven’t killed someone, have I?”
He was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and pleaded not guilty. However, on the eve of his trial in February 2017 he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and this was accepted by the prosecution following consultation with Phipps’s family.
He was originally also charged with failing to stop at the scene of a collision, but the prosecution did not pursue the case that this was intentional and the charge was dropped: reportedly, it was said (it is unclear by whom “to be perfectly reasonable that due to the size of the lorry, a driver would not realise he had collided with or run someone over.”
Magee had parked on double yellow lines on the far side of the road (ie against the flow of traffic) and pulled away diagonally across the carriageway to the left side, pulling Phipps under the HGV.
The lorry had nearside proximity mirrors and a CCTV system which automatically activated when the left indicator was switched on. However, Magee did not indicate, hence did not and could not have checked the monitor. According to one report, “he described it as ‘one of those annoying things’ of no use to him.” A reconstruction of the incident by police had shown that Phipps would have been visible in the lorry’s mirrors had Magee checked them; his defence counsel accepted that there was a “failure to use his mirrors in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time”.
Judge Martin Joy described Magee’s driving as “irresponsible and hazardous”, saying that Phipps’ death “was the almost inevitable culmination of a long course of reckless behaviour with a very large lorry in [his] charge.”
He jailed Magee for three years and banned him from driving for five and a half years, remarking that “there has to be a clear and consistent message that to drive a vehicle, especially a lorry, in such an irresponsible way, must be severely punished.”