Officer 'slammed on brakes' to avoid hitting Cardiff woman

Winifred Greaves Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Winifred Greaves "always had a smile on her face", her family said

A police van driver "slammed the brakes as hard as he could" to avoid hitting a woman who was crossing the road, an inquest has heard.

Winifred Greaves, 93, from Whitchurch, Cardiff, was crossing Merthyr Road on 8 December 2018, at about 17:40 GMT.

The hearing was told the driver thought he had avoided her but his colleague thought there may have been contact.

Jurors in Cardiff will decide whether the van hit Mrs Greaves, who died in hospital the following day.

The inquest heard Mrs Greaves was crossing the road on a wet night when the officers were on their way to an incident in nearby Gabalfa.

Driver PC Paul Donoghue from South Wales Police said Mrs Greaves was crossing the road "quite fast" when he first saw her "about 10m away".

He said he was driving under 20mph in a 30mph zone and described how he hit the brakes and swerved to avoid her.

His colleague PCSO Thomas Matthews said he "heard a bang" and told PC Donoghue "I think you've hit her."

However, Mr Donoghue said he thought he had avoided her and "felt relieved" because he did not feel an impact.

Christine Searle, a retired nurse from Whitchurch, told the inquest that on the night of the incident she saw Mrs Greaves crossing the road very quickly.

Mrs Searle said the weather that night was "one of the worst of the winter" but she did not hear any loud noises and the van was not travelling fast.

Image caption The crash happened on Merthyr Road in Whitchurch

Mr Donoghue said when he got out of the van, Mrs Greaves was on her back but was responsive.

However, the inquest heard that Mr Donoghue said in the initial ambulance call: "I have knocked over an elderly woman with my van. She is not conscious."

He said this was because if he had said in the call she was conscious they would have been "waiting hours".

Paramedics arrived and checked Mrs Greaves over before taking her to the University Hospital of Wales.

The inquest heard the only visible injury to Mrs Greaves was a cut to the back of the head, which didn't require stitches.

Upon further examination at the hospital, a CT scan showed there was bleeding on the brain and a slight fracture to the skull.

Aneurin Buttress, a consultant and general physician, said Mrs Greaves' condition deteriorated at a quick speed.

She later died from internal bleeding

The hearing continues.