Sentenced ‘over terrible mistake'

A retired nurse who dedicated her life to helping others left an elderly woman in hospital for months after a "terrible mistake", a court has heard.

Philippa Margaret Pilling (68), of Mosgiel, was a "good person", community magistrate Simon Heale told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

She had never been to court, and never had so much as a speeding ticket, her counsel, Andrew More, said.

Her mantra had always been "do no harm".

On July 9, Pilling was at a red light in Inglis St, waiting to turn into Gordon Rd.

The victim — a 93-year-old woman — got the green light to cross moments before the driver’s signal also changed.

After brief confusion, a motorist opposite Pilling gestured for her to go.

She told police she "just heard the thump".

It was a low-speed collision but the impact on the pedestrian was severe.

The court heard she sustained two fractured bones in her left leg, fractures to bones in her pelvis, a ruptured bladder, lacerations and a brain haemorrhage.

Her family, in a statement written last month, said she had previously been living independently in a Mosgiel townhouse.

Now she was stuck in a hospital bed "disorientated and confused at times ... in significant pain and discomfort".

Discharge from hospital was a long way off and when it occurred, the victim would inevitably be in an assisted-living environment, they said.

Despite the dramatic consequences of the collision, they did not want Pilling to suffer further for her actions, they said.

Mr More stressed Pilling had immediately assisted the victim after the crash and contacted the family to express her remorse.

"This is simply an unfortunate and terrible, terrible mistake," he said.

Pilling volunteered for various charities, including the Mosgiel Food Bank, the court heard.

When she heard her victim had also worked there, she put in more hours in recognition of her driving fault, Mr More said.

Mr Heale was confident Pilling’s remorse was genuine.

"The references make it clear you’re a good person who has dedicated her life to helping others," he said.

"It’s one of the cruelties of these circumstances ... that you should now face the burden of responsibility of causing such suffering."

Pilling was disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay the victim $750.

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