14th Dec, 2017

Brave woman who battled MS killed by car travelling twice speed limit

Chris Willmott 3rd May, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A YOUNG woman who had bravely battled multiple sclerosis was killed as she crossed a dual carriageway when she was hit by a car which was doing double the speed limit.

Hannah Bowden was thrown into the air by the force of the impact as she desperately tried to run for the kerb as driver Lewis Gilder swerved in the same direction after seeing her.

Gilder (33) of Swinburne Avenue, Binley, Coventry, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing 24-year-old Hannah’s death by dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Matthew Barnes said that on August 17 Hannah, who had come to terms with a diagnosis of autism when she was nine and multiple sclerosis at 21, had been to visit a friend.

She had left there and was on her way to another friend’s home when she was hit as she crossed Sky Blue Way at 9.18pm.

Karen Yardley was heading in that direction in the outside lane when Gilder, driving his wife’s Ford X-Max came up close behind her at speed before undertaking her.

As he went ‘flying past’ on the inside, Mrs Yardley commented to her daughter that he was ‘driving like an arse.’

“As she said that she heard a loud bang which was the collision of Hannah being struck by Gilder’s car and thrown into the air,” said Mr Barnes.

Hannah had pressed the button at the crossing, but had then seen a gap in the traffic and judged that it would be safe to cross to the nearside without waiting for the lights to change.

“She stepped out, and when she realised the speed of the car, she started to run to the nearside, but the defendant tried to evade her by also steering to the nearside.”

A CCTV camera at nearby Liberty Point captured the moment the car hit Hannah, throwing her into the air and causing multiple injuries from which she died shortly afterwards.

A collision expert later calculated that Gilder’s average speed after he began braking was 58mph – in a 30mph zone.

“Although Hannah chose not to wait for the green light, she would have had sufficient time to cross if he had been going at the speed limit,” observed Mr Barnes.

Gilder stopped after the collision, and when the police arrived at the scene he admitted he had been the driver and was given a breath test which showed he was clear of alcohol.

He said he had stamped on his brakes when he saw Hannah, but that it was too late, adding that he though the speed limit there was 40 but that he ‘didn’t take much notice of signs.’

Mr Barnes read statements from Hannah’s family, including one in which her mother Jane Bowden said: “How does any mother put into words losing a child? It has left a big hole in our lives. When I think of Hannah, my heart breaks.”

Sally Hancox, defending, said although Gilder, a recovery vehicle driver and father-of-five, had convictions for offences including driving while disqualified, at the time he had a full licence and the car was fully insured.

She added: “He and his brother called the emergency services themselves, and he told the police he was the driver.

“He does not seek to excuse or minimise what he did.

“He knows that with his arrogance on the road that evening he has taken the life of another person.”

Jailing Gilder and banning him from driving for five-and-a-half years, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones told him: “There can be no winners on a day like this.

“This young girl, who should have had many years of life in front of her, was crossing the road in a perfectly rational way. She had every reason to judge that she would have time to cross.

“I have had the misfortune to have to witness the film of this catastrophic accident. It was obvious that you were driving far too fast, and your effort to evade actually made it worse.”

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