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'Wrong way' driver with dementia caused tragedy

KILLED: Civil engineer Michael Pedley was riding home on his motorcycle
KILLED: Civil engineer Michael Pedley was riding home on his motorcycle

AN ELDERLY woman suffering with dementia killed a motorcyclist after driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway.

Confused Elizabeth Mirfin, of Grand Drive, Herne Bay, collided with father-of-two Michael Pedley as he rode along the Thanet Way.

An inquest at Canterbury revealed that Mrs Mirfin, 86, did not have a licence and had been advised by her doctor not to drive.

Sister-in-law Louise Mirfin hid the keys to her Rover Metro, but on April 25 last year Mrs Mirfin found a spare and embarked on the fateful journey.

During the inquest, statements were given from witnesses who saw Mrs Mirfin leave the Eddington roundabout and drive down the sliproad to join the London-bound carriageway of the A299.

At the bottom of the sliproad, she did a slow U-turn and headed back along the dual carriageway towards Thanet in the face of on-coming traffic.

Horrified drivers swerved to avoid the Metro and flashed their lights as it approached them head-on in the outside lane.

Civil engineer Mr Pedley, 37, of High Street, Sittingbourne, was riding home on his Kawasaki ZX6R.

In the collision, his bike was thrown over the crash barrier into the opposite carriageway where it hit a Vauxhall Astra. He died from multiple injuries at the scene, opposite Heart in Hand Road, Broomfield.

After the accident, Mrs Mirfin, who was not badly hurt, was interviewed by police and later a psychiatrist.

Sgt Julian Barton, of the serious collisions investigation unit, said: “She did not have any realistic recollection of the accident, who she was, or why she was there.”

A psychiatrist interviewed Mrs Mirfin after she was admitted to St Martin’s Hospital, Canterbury, and confirmed she was suffering with advanced vascular dementia, and had no mental capacity to understand charges or legal procedures.

Coroner Rebecca Cobb gave a narrative verdict outlining the facts of the collision.

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