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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 05:18 GMT
US car-deaths man given probation
George Weller
Weller was excused court attendance because of ill health
An 89-year-old American man whose car crashed into a farmers' market and killed 10 people has been sentenced to five years' probation for manslaughter.

The judge in Los Angeles said George Weller deserved time in jail but was too frail to survive behind bars.

The judge called him "stubborn, bull-headed and callous".

Weller said he mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake when he drove into food stalls in Santa Monica in July 2003.

Weller was not in court to hear Judge Michael Johnson condemn his "stubborn and bull-headed refusal to accept responsibility".

I tried to take the control knob and jam it into park...everything, anything that I thought would stop the action of the car
George Weller

The judge said Weller had made "unbelievably callous statements" such as "just think how I felt" at the time of the crash.

"I'm convinced that Mr Weller deserves to go to prison," the judge said, but added that it "would not do anybody any good".

The judge ordered fees, fines and damages to the families of two victims totalling $101,700 (53,600). Other damages have yet to be determined.

In addition to the dead, the accident left 63 people injured.

Tangled body

Weller was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence on the ninth day of jury deliberations.

He was excused attendance from the three-week trial for health reasons.

Witnesses said Weller was "seemingly nonplussed" moments after the accident.

Prosecutor Ann Ambrose said earlier in the trial: "He looked at what he had done, essentially shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Oops.'"

Weller's car travelled about 300m (1,000ft) and reached 60mph when it crashed, with one victim's body tangled underneath and another draped across the car. The victims ranged in age from seven months to 78 years.

In a taped interview with police, Weller said he tried everything he could think of to stop the car.

He said at the time: "I tried to take the control knob and jam it into park... everything, anything that I thought would stop the action of the car."


SEE ALSO
Aged US man guilty of car deaths
21 Oct 06 |  Americas

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