Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 18:52 UK

Aristocrat fined for road offence

An aristocrat aged 82 has been fined after she was found guilty of driving without due care and attention in an incident which preceded a fatal crash.

Lady Elizabeth Crawshay was fined £750 after a court found her driving fell below that of a "reasonable driver".

Abergavenny magistrates heard her Rover was involved in a "glancing blow" with a Subaru Impreza as she turned into the Hardwick pub lay-by on the B4598.

The Subaru then hit a Saab car head-on, killing Nicholas and Susan Fermor.

In June, the Subaru's driver, Samantha Mead, 29 of nearby Penpergwm, was found not guilty at Newport Crown Court, on the direction of the trial judge, of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The crown court had previously heard that Ms Mead was trying to avoid an oncoming Rover car turning into the Hardwick pub lay-by.

A careful and prudent driver, in the defendant's position, having seen the approaching vehicle, would not have commenced the manoeuvre across the carriageway

Chair of magistrates Val Willie

Prosecutor Carl Harrison told the magistrates' court on Friday that Crawshay had realised she had forgotten something and decided to use the lay-by at the pub to turn around.

The former magistrate, from Govilon, Abergavenny told police officers she felt a bang on the rear passenger side as she performed the manoeuvre, but assumed the other car had just driven off.

She claimed not to have linked the wreckage of the two vehicles with the collision she was involved in just moments earlier.

She reported her accident to police four days later after her insurance company said they would need a crime number for any claim on her damaged car.

Before the verdict was announced Simon Morgan, defending, asked magistrates to bear in mind evidence that suggested Ms Mead was travelling at 87mph at the point of impact.

He added: "Moderate braking, even at 87mph, would have resulted in this accident being avoided."

Victim surcharge

After deliberation, magistrates chairwoman Val Willie said: "A careful and prudent driver, in the defendant's position, having seen the approaching vehicle, would not have commenced the manoeuvre across the carriageway.

"We therefore find the defendant's standard of driving fell below that of a reasonable driver and we therefore find you guilty of driving without due care and attention."

As well as the fine and £600 costs, Crawshay was ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

Her licence will also be endorsed with five penalty points.

In May last year, the month after the accident, it was announced that Crawshay had retired as president of the Nevill Hall Thrombosis and General Research Fund in Abergavenny after holding the post for more than 30 years.

After the case, Mr Morgan said Crawshay had "nothing to say."

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