A JUDGE has expressed his sympathy to the family of a young Coventry woman who died after being hit by a car in August last year for the ‘inexorably slow’ progress of the case.
The judge at Warwick Crown Court made his comments when driver Lewis Gilder appeared for what was supposed to have been a plea and trial preparation hearing.
Gilder, 32, of Swinburne Avenue, Binley, Coventry, has been charged with causing the death of 24-year-old Hannah Bowden on August 17 last year.
Hannah, from the Cheylesmore area of the city, died despite the efforts of paramedics who rushed her to hospital after she was hit by Gilder’s black Ford X-Max as she was crossing a road near Sky Blue Way at around 9pm.
As the hearing began, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said: “This case surrounds the death of Hannah Bowden. Whatever the outcome at the end, that situation can never change.
“The family have now been dealing with a bereavement for some months, and it may be these things seem to go inexorably slowly for them.”
And he asked the barristers in the case: “Is this matter likely to resolve itself, or should we at this juncture be seizing a date for it to be tried?”
Daniel Oscroft, defending, suggested a trial date be set, but asked that Gilder should not be arraigned on the charge.
Mr Oscroft explained: “This is a case where the issue really comes down to speed, and how fast the defendant was travelling. I have only today received the (police) accident investigator’s report and
“The defendant is realistic about some of the evidence in the case, and very conscious of not only any credit he might receive for any plea he enters, but of not wanting to put Hannah Bowden’s family through any unnecessary anguish by delaying it.
“But he is not at this stage ready to enter a plea – and that is on the advice of his counsel and solicitors, because it would be impossible to give appropriate advice without considering the collision report and the CCTV.”
He asked for the case to be adjourned to give the defence time to consider those and, if necessary, to have its own report prepared.
Judge Lockhart agreed, but set a provisional date for trial, which is expected to last five days, of October 10.
And he said there should be a further case management hearing, commenting that once the report and the CCTV have been reviewed ‘counsel can consider whether there is any level of fault in the driving and, if so, what the gravamen of it is.’
Adjourning the case until the end of April and granting Gilder bail, the judge told him: “You will be required to enter a plea on the next occasion.”
He then addressed Hannah’s family, telling them: “These proceedings are formal and have to be conducted in a certain way, but the court and everyone in it understands how difficult these matters are for you.”