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Man cleared of killing Bromsgrove pensioner by careless driving
4:50pm Monday 2nd September 2013 in News
THE brother of Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James has been cleared of causing a Bromsgrove pensioner’s death by careless motorway driving.
Mollie Haines died in a traffic collision between Junctions 2 and 3 of the motorway, near High Wycombe, in July 2012.
Daniel Mitchell's Porsche Cayenne S hit the back of the 73-year-old’s stranded Nissan Almera sending her car, which was on fire, spinning.
The Barnt Green resident had been stuck in fast-flowing motorway traffic after being unable to get her car going again following an earlier jam.
Mr Mitchell, 48, a professional lorry driver and logistics co-ordinator, had been driving from a doctor's appointment to his work.
In his police interview hours after the crash he told officers: "I just didn't see this car. I just hit this car in lane two.
"I didn't expect this car to be in lane two. It was just there.
"People who look at the Porsche think 'well, he drives like Michael Schumacher', which I don't."
As an experienced HGV driver he said he was used to driving in lane one of the motorway at no more than 56mph and that when in his own car, he would travel between 60 and 70mph.
Prosecution and defence experts concluded that before the crash he had been driving at a minimum speed of 70mph.
The defendant also said he normally drove in lane one of the motorway and that the fact that he was in lane two meant he must have overtaken somebody.
Beyond that he had limited memory of events.
"All I remember is just looking and realising this car is stationary,” he said.
"I think I tried to swerve. I don't think I even had a chance to brake."
He informed officers he drove the best part of 50,000 to 60,000 miles a year all across Europe, and had never had an accident.
Prosecutors argued that other drivers had seen and managed to avoid Mrs Haines' car, but he had not.
The defence countered that by pointing out that a witness described a number of near misses.
One driver had not seen the obstruction, but had it pointed out to him by his passenger, while another suspected that had the neighbouring lane not been free for him to swerve into, he would have hit the Nissan.
Mrs Haines, a retired orthoptist and Blackwell Ladies Golf Club golf club president, was driving to see one of her daughters and grandchildren in Kingston upon Thames, when the tragedy happened.
When she realised there was a problem she called her husband, Charles, who told her to contact the AA.
Another motorist pulled onto the hard shoulder and dialled 999. A Highways Agency worker then turned a camera and zoomed in on the Nissan, only to watch helplessly as events unfolded.
Following the verdict, Judge Francis Sheridan said: "If ever there was a case for a jury, this was it."
Adding that it had been a distressing case for both families, he asked everyone to leave the court in silence as a mark of respect to Mrs Haines.
Neither Mr Mitchell, of The Common, Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire, nor the Haines family wished to comment as they left the court, in Amersham.
Mr Mitchell's older sibling, Erika, wrote the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey which became a global sensation last year, selling more than 70 million copies.
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