'Blind' Porsche-driving GP, 65, who 'killed pensioner' had such bad vision he couldn't read top line of eye-sight test (5/2/10)
A GP whose vision was so bad he could not read the top line of letters on an eye-test chart ran over and killed an elderly woman while speeding in his Porsche, a court has heard.
Aloke Basu, 65, is said to have failed to brake when Shirley Watkins, 74, crossed the road in front of him.
Moments after fatally wounding her, he admitted that he ‘didn’t see’ the widow and mother of two.
It later emerged he had been receiving treatment for glaucoma since 2000 and had failed to follow a specialist’s advice to notify the DVLA that his sight could be affecting his driving, a jury was told.
The day after the tragedy in Southend, Basu contacted the government driving agency and was ordered to take an eye test.
His licence was revoked after it was found he had such ‘severely impaired vision’ in one eye that he could not read the top line of letters in a test, which is routinely given at a distance of 20ft. A person with normal eyesight can read the line from a distance of nearly 200ft.
His other eye was a ‘borderline fail’.
Prosecutor Gerard Pounder told Basildon Crown Court: ‘To drive with deficient eyesight obviously creates a danger and a hazard to others. He wasn’t told not to drive but was told to report his condition to the DVLA.’
Basu, of Thorpe Bay, Essex, was driving at speeds of between 41mph and 57mph on a 40mph dual carriageway when he hit Mrs Watkins on February 5 last year, the court was told.
Van driver Derren Webber told the jury he saw Basu, who was wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses, overtake him before ‘drifting’ into the inside lane.
Moments later the powerful red Porsche 911 Carrera struck Mrs Watkins as the widow was returning from a trip to a supermarket near her home.
Basu, the court heard, was said to be ‘very quiet’ and ‘motionless’ as paramedics fought to save her life.
Mrs Watkins died at the scene from multiple injuries.Mr Webber said that Mrs Watkins ‘didn’t create a problem’ by crossing the road, although he had slowed down to avoid her.
He added: ‘She was pottering. I didn’t think it was an overly safe place to cross but there didn’t seem to be much traffic about.’
Basu, who is understood to have worked at Shoebury Health Centre, Essex, from 1976, later told officers: ‘I suddenly saw this blur in the left hand corner of my eye. I then heard this bang and I knew I had hit something.
‘The windscreen shattered, I braked and stopped the car. I got out and saw this body lying behind the car.’
The court heard he had undergone surgery at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and a specialist had told him at least twice he should inform the DVLA.
Ophthalmic medical practitioner Dr Damodaraswamy Sridharan said Basu had a long history of glaucoma and cataracts and the prescription for his glasses had not changed between 2005 and 2010 because his sight could not be improved.
He added: ‘He was only able to count fingers [to test his sight]. He was not able to read the top line on the test chart.’
Basu, who wore glasses in court, denies causing death by dangerous driving.
The case continues.