Elderly woman 'unfit to drive' before crash, court hears

Emergency services workers cut Rachel Kelly from her car in Port Fairy after the smash in March.

Emergency services workers cut Rachel Kelly from her car in Port Fairy after the smash in March.

THE family of an elderly Port Fairy woman knew she was unfit to drive months before she caused a road rampage that left a mother of three young children badly injured and trapped inside the wreckage of her car. 

Enid Parker, 83, of Hamilton Road, hit four vehicles in Port Fairy in March despite doctors and Parker’s family agreeing the accused should no longer be permitted to drive, a Warrnambool court heard yesterday.

On March 12 Parker was reversing out of a car park in the town when she crossed the double lines and hit a passing semi-trailer.

She then drove back into the vacant car space, sideswiping a Mercedes-Benz before driving out on to Sackville Street with the car wheels “spinning and screeching”, hitting a utility.

Parker then sped at 80km/h towards the Cox and Sackville streets roundabout where she slammed into the driver’s side of Port Fairy mum Rachel Kelly’s Toyota Camry. The force of the impact catapulted the Camry on to the footpath.

Mrs Kelly, 43, a screenwriter and journalism tutor who was knocked unconscious in the accident, was trapped in the mangled wreckage of the car and had to be cut free.

She told the court that she suffered vivid nightmares about being killed in the collision and had ongoing issues with whiplash, dizziness and balance issues that affected her ability to use a computer screen for her work.  Mrs Kelly said she had suffered considerable financial loss. 

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris said Parker had little recollection of the incident when interviewed.

In sentencing, magistrate Ron Saines said he was unable to punish Parker, who has since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but said: “It seems to me that she was not capable of executing good judgment at the time of the offending.”

Mr Saines saved his harshest words for Parker’s family who he said were aware of her poor physical and mental state before the accident. 

Parker and her family had met with a doctor six months before the smash, where it was agreed that she would never drive again. “It appears in this circumstance Ms Parker’s family made a serious failure in regard to public safety by permitting their mother access to a motor vehicle,” Mr Saines said.

Parker’s defence counsel Alex McCulloch, said his client had since handed in her licence but had an unblemished record in 60 years of driving. 

Addressing Mrs Kelly, who was seated in court, he said “on behalf of my client, I apologise”.

Parker was convicted for careless driving and failing to give way and fined $1000. 

Mr Saines also cancelled her licence as a formality. 

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