‘Independent’ Sheffield widow, 89, killed after being hit by driver high on heroin and cocaine

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An 89-year-old woman died after bieng hit by a car that was being driven ‘erratically’ by a man who tested positive for heroin and cocaine, an inquest found.

Celia Jackson, of Jepson Road, Sheffield, was standing by her car on Shiregreen Lane on July 31 last year when Darren Griffiths ‘clipped’ her as he drove past in his Mercedes A160 .

Mrs Jackson, who was widowed and a retired seamstress, suffered injuries as a result of the collision and died at Northern General Hospital two days later.

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Griffiths was under investigation by South Yorkshire Police, however died from a drug-related incident unconnected to the collision earlier this year.

Crime scene in SheffieldCrime scene in Sheffield
Crime scene in Sheffield

An inquest at Sheffield Medico Centre today (August 10) heard that Mrs Jackson was an ‘independent’ woman who would regularly go shopping on her own and would go out of her way to help her neighbours who were less mobile than she was.

The day she died she was visiting a hairdressers and was standing outside her car getting ready to get in. Her car door was not open.

Witnesses say they saw the Griffiths was driving very slowly, between 15 and 20mph, and swerving into the wrong lane on Shiregreen Lane for some time before the collision.

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Assistant coroner Katy Dickinson heard that one witness named Bev Truman saw that Griffiths had stopped at a green light and had swerved into the wrong lane to overtake a van.

Celia JacksonCelia Jackson
Celia Jackson

She decided to follow the Mercedes and record how it was being driven to show to the police.

Ms Truman’s footage, described to the coroner by investigating police officer PC Richard Thorley, showed Griffiths attempting to pass Mrs Jackson as she stood by her Citroen Saxo, and failing to give sufficient room as he passed.

This meant he clipped Mrs Truman as he drove by, causing her fatal injuries.

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Griffiths then continued to drive at a slow speed, apparently unaware of the collision.

Keith Robinson, another witness who was driving on the road at the time, told the court that he drove alongside the Mercedes after the collision attempting to get Griffith’s attention and tell him to stop, however said the driver did not register him and looked ‘out of it’.

A short way further down Shiregreen Lane the Mercedes driver hit another car and overturned his vehicle, becoming trapped.

He was freed from his vehicle and taken to hospital with minor injuries and arrested. As he was not conscious, a blood sample was taken and police had to wait for his consent to analyse the sample.

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Griffiths would not give his consent, however after he died in an unrelated incident, police were able to analyse the sample and found that he had heroin and cocaine in his system.

Forensic collision investigator Grant Anderson told the court that the road surface that day was dry and the weather was clear and sunny.

He ruled out any possibility of a malfunction with the Mercedes or the driving conditions being a factor in the collision.

PC Thorley said that when he had spoken to Griffiths in interview before he died, he had said that he had crashed as some stitches from a recent operation had come undone and he was in considerable pain.

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He later told police that he had been experiencing a psychotic episode and had not been aware of the collision at the time, nor did he have any recollection of it.

Investigations into tGriffiths stopped when he died.

Concluding the inquest, assistant coroner Mrs Dickinson found that Mrs Jackson died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision with the Mercedes, and that the driver in control of the vehicle that hit her had been driving erratically.

"If he had not passed away this gentleman would have been prosecuted and we would not have had to meet [at an inquest],” Mrs Dickinson told Mrs Jackson’s family. “I am sorry that you have not got justice for his potential criminality.”