In November 2012 33-year-old wife and mother Desreen Brooks died after a speeding car mounted a pavement in West Hampstead, north-west London, where she was walking with her family.
Geoffrey Lederman, 83, a retired City executive, was driving at 50mph, way above the speed limit, when he claims to have lost control of his Mercedes sports car and ploughed into the young woman.
Brook’s two-year-old son, Jackson, was nearly killed too, with the car clipping his pushchair before delivering the fatal impact to his mother. Ben Dutton managed to save his son’s life, pushing him out of the way, but had to watch his wife get hit and killed by the car.
Witnesses described the Lederman’s car as “screaming” along the road in “a cloud of smoke” just before he struck the victim.
Mrs Brooks, an American who had studied at the London College of Fashion and worked for a fashion management company in the East End of London, lost an eye and suffered brain damage as result of the impact, the court heard.
Desreen’s husband remembers the moments leading up to the tragic incident. “We had the most lovely day together. […] She had bent down to say to him that he had been such a good, well-behaved boy all day and that she was so proud of him and those were the last words she said."
Mr Dutton has described his wife as “the most lovely person you could know.”
Lederman also struck another young woman, Amy Werner, 23, further along the road. Werner, a student at the University of Westminster, was left blind in one eye and with permanent brain damage.
The jury at Blackfriars Crown Court were told that Lederman, who had poor eyesight and had previously suffered a stroke, accelerated the powerful car and did not brake once before smashing into the two women.
Just moments before Lederman crashed into his victims he had stopped to check his car after “nudging” a pizza delivery man, the court were told.
Investigators believe that Lederman had mistakenly kept his foot on the car’s accelerator, thinking it was the brake, before speeding off from a stationary position.
Prosecutor Tom Kark QC said, “Over a period of just under 20 seconds it seems he accidentally put his foot on the accelerator instead of the brake.”
Kark QC continued to explain that Mr Lederman had mounted the pavement in attempt to bring the car under control, telling the court: “The car was very powerful and when he realised his car was out of control, not understanding why, Mr Lederman deliberately steered it onto the pavement and into the front garden wall of a house.”
CCTV footage of the Mercedes travelling at high speed and crashing into the victims was shown to the court.
Mr Lederman, who had to be cut from the wreckage of his automatic sports car, only suffered minor injuries.
Tests carried out after the crash revealed that Mr Lederman, who had a clean driver’s licence, had not been drinking before getting into the driver’s seat. Investigations also showed that there were no mechanical faults with the car, which Lederman had bought second-hand in 1982.
The 83-year-old Lederman believes he did “the right thing” in swerving off the road to stop the car, where he claims “he saw a gap” and did not see any pedestrians.
Lederman had undergone an eye test in April of the same year and said that he did not think he had to wear glasses as a condition of his licence but chose to wear a contact lens in his left eye anyway.
Lederman, who is accused of causing death and seriously injuring another womanby dangerous driving in November 2012, has – in an unusual move – been excused from attending the trial on health grounds.
Lederman denies causing death by dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily harm.
The trial continues.