Police officer fined for knocking down and crippling woman, 78

Police officer fined for knocking down and crippling woman, 78

An off-duty police officer who left a pensioner a double amputee after hitting her with his car has been fined £1,800.

PC Luigi Vezza, 55, struck Alice Sheppard, 78, as she crossed a road in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

She had been walking to visit her son when she was struck by Vezza.

The impact sent her over the bonnet and on to the windscreen, leaving her on the road with horrific injuries.

Vezza, who has 25 years’ service with the force, stopped and rang for help.

He later told police he had not noticed the pensioner and initially believed his motor had been struck with a brick.

Mrs Sheppard was rushed to nearby Hairmyres Hospital and placed in an induced coma.

Medics discovered she had suffered a bleed on the brain, a fractured jaw, fractures to her tibula and fibula and a pelvic fracture.

The injury to her left leg was so severe that surgeons had to amputate. She spent six months in hospital and had to move into a nursing home but had her right leg amputated this year as a result of the incident.

Vezza, of East Kilbride, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitted causing injury by careless driving in October 2019.

Sheriff Andrew McIntyre fined him £1,800 and also gave him seven penalty points on his licence.

He had originally been charged with causing injury by dangerous driving but prosecutors accepted a plea to the lesser charge.

Depute fiscal Jennifer Cunningham said Mrs Sheppard had been thrown on to the car bonnet by the impact before landing on the pavement.

She added: “She underwent surgery for her injuries to her left leg and required to be amputated below the left knee which was deemed necessary due to the soft tissue damage.

“She also required pins to be inserted into her right leg and later required further surgery to insert plates into her jaw.

“The complainer was later taken out of the induced coma and spent six months in hospital but her right leg had still not completely healed.

“She was discharged to a nursing home and can no longer live independently, as she could prior to the incident. In March this year, she underwent further surgery on her right leg and required amputation of her right leg through the knee and is now a double amputee which has left her requiring long-term nursing care.”

Iain Cahill, defending, said: “He accepts his driving fell below the standard which would be expected of a careful and competent driver.

“It is submitted that this culpability is at the lower end of the scale and in all of the circumstances the court can safely conclude that this has been a one-off incident.”

Sheriff McIntyre said: “This is obviously a very distressing case for all of those involved and not least for the complainer and her family.

“It is clear the offence has had a long-lasting and profound affect on her.

“But I have decided the offence should not result in a disqualification but by the imposition of penalty points and a fine.”

In a statement released through Digby Brown Solicitors, Mrs Sheppard’s family said: “Although we are glad the driver responsible for this crash has been held accountable we are saddened by the fact his conviction is only for careless driving.

“We feel the acceptance of this plea in no way reflects the life-changing trauma inflicted on Alice. She lost both her legs, suffered a brain injury, a fractured jaw and was basically left for dead – it forever altered the course of her life and that of her family.

“Justice is meant to reflect the gravity of what happened to the victims and reflect the kind of values we expect of people in our society – how then can careless driving be considered justice?

“We know Vezza is a police officer so we would like to know what steps Police Scotland has taken with him … , and additionally with the wider police staff, to stress the importance of abiding by the very laws and values they are meant to enforce.”

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