Published: 06:00, 10 June 2021
| Updated: 14:24, 10 June 2021
A student has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving after crashing an electric scooter into a mum-of-three - leaving her with serious injuries.
Joshua Mpia, 19, had been free-wheeling a privately owned e scooter along the pavement of St Thomas Hill in Canterbury when he ploughed into Pauline Lilford, who suffered two broken limbs.
The University of Kent student appeared before magistrates in Folkestone on Tuesday, when he pleaded guilty to both dangerous driving and driving without insurance in what is thought to be one of the first cases of its kind.
Magistrate Peter Goodwin said Mpia’s sentence must act “as a deterrent to other people who think they can go tearing around” on e scooters.
The vehicles are illegal to ride in public areas unless rented as part of government-backed trials, like one currently taking place in Canterbury.
Mpia’s was privately owned and not hired as part of the scheme.
Mrs Lilford, 58, had been out walking with her husband at about 8am on November 10, when Mpia, who was travelling down the hill toward Canterbury West, crashed into her from behind.
The court heard how Mpia, from east London, had switched off the scooter’s power, and had been driving on the pavement at about 20mph when he failed to brake in time and collided with Mrs Lilford.
Mrs Lilford told KentOnline the crash felt “like being hit by a car”.
She suffered fractures to her arm and leg, and required surgery to rewire her elbow, which was “smashed up” in the collision.
Neil Sweeney, prosecuting, said Mrs Lilford’s recovery “has been a very long process”.
She is still receiving physiotherapy and walks with a limp, while she may yet need further surgery.
In a statement read out by Mr Sweeney, Mrs Lilford said the incident “completely knocked [her] confidence” and made her feel anxious about leaving the house.
“You should be able to feel safe when walking on the pavement,” she said.
Mrs Lilford added that because she was left bed-bound by her injuries, she was unable to care for her elderly mother, who has dementia. Her mother has since had to move into a care home, where her condition has deteriorated and she has contracted Covid-19.
Roger Haw, defending, told how Mpia, a first-year politics and international relations student, is “consumed with remorse about what happened”.
He said Mpia mounted the pavement as a means of “evasive action”, to get out of the way of a vehicle that was fast approaching him on the road.
“It’s a very unfortunate accident about which he is very remorseful,” said Mr Haw.
“It wasn’t a matter of just driving without concern for other people. He was concerned for his own safety.
“He has led a blameless life and isn’t likely to appear before the courts again.”
But magistrate Peter Goodwin described the crash as “a very serious incident”.
“[Mrs Lilford] is having to have surgery and possibly repeat surgery, and all this has happened because you went free-wheeling down that road,” he said.
“You disabled the power so the brakes couldn’t work.
“You and that vehicle collided with that woman.
“Be under no illusion: we do find this to be an extremely serious incident.”
The case was adjourned until July 14.
Mr Goodwin says “all sentencing options” will be available, and told Mpia he could face time in prison.
“This has to serve as a sentence to reflect the gravity of the offence we’re looking at,” he said.
“And as a deterrent to other people who think they can go free-wheeling and tearing around on these things, and that the road is just an open field to them. It isn’t.
“If that is going to be the case, then the courts will have to step up [with appropriate sentences], and we will do that.”
Mpia was granted unconditional bail, but has been temporarily disqualified from driving.
Mrs Lilford says she hopes Mpia’s sentence will help deter others from driving dangerously on e scooters.
“On the face of it, it seems to be a really good, convenient way of getting around,” she said.
“But people need to be really aware of the other side of it - the dangers involved and the injuries they can cause.”
On Monday, a man from Ramsgate was charged with riding an electric scooter while over the legal alcohol limit.