An 87-year-old driver who killed a woman after confusing the pedals died just days after being jailed.
William Heagren reversed his Ford Fusion into Jeanette Newman, 64, and her friend minutes after he bumped his car on a bollard.
He was jailed for a total of 40 months on December 5 – despite warnings from his legal team that he was frail and could die while behind bars.
An investigation has now been launched after London’s Wormwood Scrubs prisoner died in hospital nine days after sentencing, on December 14.
The pensioner also left Sarah Taylor, 53, with life-changing injuries, following the incident in a Sainsbury’s car park in South Ruislip, London, on May 26.
Barrister David Wood attempted to secure a suspended sentence for his client, saying the ‘frail’ driver needed surgery for a broken hip and was ‘at a stage in his life when even a minor fall could kill him’.
But Judge Lana Wood jailed Heagren for 27 months for death by dangerous driving and 13 months for serious injury by dangerous driving.
She also refused his plea for bail pending an appeal after Heagren appeared at Harrow Crown Court using a walking frame.
The tragedy was described as ‘a classic case of pedal confusion’ by an expert collision investigator, who concluded that the mix up between brake and accelerator was a result of driver error.
Mr Wood contested the judge’s decision to jail Heagren, saying it was an ‘exceptional case.’
He said: ‘This man is 87 and the court has before it medical evidence strongly suggesting in the words of a GP that incarceration in a new environment could result in hospital admission for a life threatening illness.
‘That makes this an exceptional case.’
He added: ‘This is arguably manifestly excessive.’
But the Judge said: ‘Although the conditions he faces are serious, the GP letter doesn’t amount in itself to exceptional reasons. I’m afraid I’m not so persuaded.’
She added: ‘This was a case that has caused me anxiety I have spent a considerable amount of time considering the sentence.
‘It is not a sentence that I give lightly or that I would voluntarily wish to impose. However, in my judgement it is the shortest sentence I can impose.’
CCTV footage shows Heagren, who was 86 at the time of the fatal collision, looking angry when he crashed into a bollard after attempting to move the vehicle.
He got back into the automatic car and reversed it at maximum reverse speed, narrowly missing a dad who had to pull his children out of harm’s way.
Heagren continued until his car hit Ms Newman and Ms Taylor, carrying them towards a bollard, which stopped the Ford after it had travelled 100ft.
Ms Newman was left unconscious and suffered skull, facial and rib fractures, as well as a punctured lung and a blood clot on the brain. Her life support machine was switched off the following morning after surgery to relieve a blood clot on her brain was unsuccessful.
Ms Taylor suffered multiple serious injuries and suffered a stroke linked to the crash.
After the case, Ms Newman’s partner, Andrew Roberts, called on the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to introduce compulsory driving tests for motorists when they turn 70.
Currently, when drivers reach that age, the DVLA sends them a form to declare their fitness to drive.
They then have to renew their licence every three years.
A Prison Service spokesman said: ‘HMP Wormwood Scrubs prisoner William Heagren died in hospital on December 14.
‘As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.’