Woman, 80, sentenced over Liverpool schoolgirls crash
An 80-year-old woman has been banned from driving for life after she drove into a group of eight schoolgirls going home for the weekend.
Five of the girls, aged 11-16, were seriously hurt in the Belvidere Road crash in Liverpool on 12 February. One girl suffered serious brain injuries.
At Liverpool Crown Court, Norma Stokes admitted five counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
She was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.
The court heard the crash happened during a busy Friday afternoon when students were leaving The Belvedere Academy girls' school.
Mrs Stokes, of Booker Avenue, Allerton, drove out of Peel Street onto Belvidere Road when heavy traffic meant it was not safe to pull out, the court heard.
She hit bollards in the middle of the carriageway before veering across the road, mounting the pavement, and hitting the girls.
Judge David Aubrey QC said it had been "a difficult sentencing exercise" due to Mrs Stokes' previous, unblemished driving record and impeccable character.
He called for the government to review the manner in which the elderly can or cannot be permitted to drive.
Currently the DVLA states drivers over the age of 70 must renew their licence every three years.
During the case the girls' families read out impact statements describing the trauma the crash had caused, including how the girls are now "deeply anxious" and suffer from "terrible pain".
The family of the girl who suffered significant brain injuries said they were told by a consultant that their daughter, who had gone to school that day, "no longer existed" and she would return home from hospital "a different person".
She now has epilepsy, short-term memory problems and diabetes.
Mrs Stokes told police, at the time of the crash, the car was out of control and that although she was trying to brake she accidentally pressed the accelerator.
Following sentencing Ch Supt Mark Wiggins, of Merseyside Police, said: "The effects of those injuries will last a lifetime for the girls, both physically and emotionally, as well as their families.
"Mrs Stokes too has been greatly affected. She has always expressed profound regret for the events of 12 February this year, and will carry that guilt with her for the rest of her life."