Former town crier admits causing the death of his partner in a road accident and is warned he faces jail

PUBLISHED: 10:31 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 22 October 2018

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant


A former town crier from Topsham who admitted causing the death of his partner in a road accident in which she fell out of her wheelchair, has been warned he faces jail.

Keith Smith, aged 74, of Bowd Court, Sidmouth, admitted dangerous driving and having no insurance when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

He admitted causing the death of Maureen King, aged 63, who was injured when thrown from a wheelchair in the back of a specially adapted vehicle.

The incident happened at the Countess Wear Roundabout on September 3 last year when Smith was driving Mrs King back to their former home in Denver Road, Topsham.

He drove home but called the emergency services after finding she was seriously injured.

Paramedics called the police because he was drunk and he later gave a breath test of 92 microgrammes, more than twice the limit of 35.

Mr Barry White, defending, said the case is highly unusual and related to the death of someone who had been Smith’s partner for 30 years.

He said Smith had driven the same route many times with Mrs King, who was his partner of 30 years. He said it was her decision not to wear a seatbelt.

He said there was no direct evidence to link the minor accident, which caused the injuries, with Smith’s intoxication.

Mr William Hunter, prosecuting, said the key issue in the case is whether the wheelchair was anchored at the time of the incident.

Smith told police at the time that Mrs King, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, was thrown from her untethered wheelchair after a car in front of him braked sharply and he stopped to avoid a collision.

Smith is a retired businessman and he and Maureen ran the former Denleys Wine Bar in Topsham for several years before it became an Indian restaurant.

He is also a former town crier in Topsham.

Judge Peter Johnson adjourned sentencing until November 9 and released Smith on bail.

He told Smith “I am granting bail essentially for you to put your affairs in order. “The almost inevitable sentence is one of immediate custody.”

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