A pensioner who caused the death of her close friend in a parking accident has been spared a prison sentence.
Patricia Tulip, 82, accidentally reversed her automatic car into Joyce Nainby outside her house in Newcastle in September last year.
Tulip, of Seghill, Northumberland, pleaded guilty to causing her death by careless driving at Newcastle Crown Court in October.
Tulip and Mrs Nainby has been travelling back from a school reunion in Tulip’s Skoda Roomster.
The car rolled backwards after Tulip parked without putting the handbrake on and leaving it in reverse instead of neutral after arriving at Mrs Nainby’s Gosforth home.
When Tulip got back in to stop the car, she put her foot down on the accelerator instead of the foot brake which caused the vehicle to shoot backwards.
An open passenger door hit Mrs Nainby, 80, who died of her injuries 10 days later.
Today, she was given a community order by Judge Amanda Rippon.
Mrs Nainby’s family said after Tulip’s conviction: “The verdict gives us the closure we need and allows us to move on, which is what our mum and dad would want for us.”
Judge Amanda Rippon said today: “As a result of a series of careless errors by you, your car very sadly became the implement responsible for your old and great friend’s tragic death.
“Although she was 80, she was fit and she was active, and she had every reason to expect many more years with her family.”
The loss had “completely devastated” the Nainby family, the judge said, adding that the victim’s husband of 64 years, Peter, died months after the incident without her by his side.
He had Parkinson’s and cancer at the time of the incident and died in July.
“There is no sentence that I can give that will bring back Joyce Nainby for her family, or for you,” the judge told the defendant.
Tulip has given up her driving licence but was banned from driving for three years.
In a statement read out in court, one of Mrs Nainby’s three children, Geoffrey, said the incident had changed their family’s lives forever.
“Their final years could have been so different. Mum could and should have been here to look after Dad in his final months,” he told the court.
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“Like so many others, we felt confident that terrible things only happen to other people, but then this happened to us.”
Tulip’s defence lawyer, Shaun Routledge, said she had written a letter of condolence to her friend’s family.
But the family said while they accepted what happened was a “tragic accident”, Tulip’s “carelessness, every action and decision made by her beyond that date has been made without any respect or consideration whatsoever for the feelings of our family”.
“As a friend of our Mum’s, we didn’t seek punishment for Mrs Tulip, all we ever wanted was an acceptance of responsibility.”
The statement added that Peter Nainby had not been able to get closure before his death because of the delay between the incident and Tulip’s sentencing.