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Death crash prosecution collapses after mother Philippa Watson killed by reversing truck outside Greenhithe McDonald's

Philippa Watson, 51, died when she was hit by a reversing truck in Greenhithe
Philippa Watson, 51, died when she was hit by a reversing truck in Greenhithe

A landscape gardener has been cleared of causing the death by careless driving of a pedestrian outside a fast food restaurant after the prosecution case collapsed.

Philippa Watson, 51, was run over by Aaron Dainty's tipper truck as it reversed outside Macdonald's in Greenhithe.

But Judge Philip Statman directed a jury to acquit Mr Dainty following a submission of no case to answer by his lawyer.

Mrs Watson's family said they were "sadly disappointed" at the outcome, but thanked the police and Crown Prosecution Service.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Mrs Watson had just left the restaurant when she was hit by the truck on August 24 last year. She died at the scene.

The 24-year-old driver was alleged to have been eating a McDonald's breakfast as he reversed.

Mr Dainty and four colleagues had just finished a night shift doing groundwork outside a House of Fraser store at nearby Bluewater shopping centre.

They stopped at the restaurant in Bean Road before heading home to Essex.

Mr Dainty, of Kent Avenue, Canvey Island, parked the tipper truck in a "dead end" road running alongside the restaurant at about 7.15am.

Mrs Watson, of Green Street Green Road, Dartford, had parked her Citroen in a nearby recess often used by vehicles as a turning point.

A McDonald's employee was hosing down the pavement when he heard a scream and looked up to see the truck reversing over Mrs Watson. Just seconds earlier he had wished her a good day.

Philippa Watson with her husband Tom and daughters Emma and Daisy
Philippa Watson with her husband Tom and daughters Emma and Daisy

Philippa Watson with her husband Tom and daughters Emma and Daisy

Denzil Pugh, prosecuting, said the case centred on the manner of Mr Dainty's driving.

"It's the Crown's case his driving fell below the standard required of a competent and careful driver who, reversing a tipper truck, should be keeping a proper look-out behind him to ensure there was no danger to anyone," he said.

Mr Dainty told police he had checked his mirrors and was looking through his back window as he reversed. He denied he was eating at the time and said he had put his food in his lap.

"He was saying it was an accident, albeit with dire consequences," said Mr Pugh. "The Crown accept it was an accident but one that could have been easily avoided if he had been driving with the requisite care and competence."

Witness Ray Winchester was working outside McDonald's when he saw Mrs Watson, whom he knew as Pippa.

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

Aaron Dainty has been cleared of causing death by careless driving at Maidstone Crown Court

He told the jury she was walking towards her car when he heard a scream.

Becoming upset, he added: "I looked across the road and all I could see were Pippa’s feet under the wheels of the truck."

A family statement from Mrs Watson's husband Tom and daughters Emma and Daisy said: "We are sadly disappointed with the outcome, but would like to thank the police and Crown Prosecution Service for all of their hard work and support through this time.

"We would also like the thank Mr Winchester for his help in the case and we appreciate it must have been very difficult for him.

"Now we can all try to put this part of our lives behind us and move on to remember Pippa for the wonderful person she was."

Dainty denied the charge, but the case was halted before he was due to give evidence.

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