Essex GP jailed for killing woman in road crash

Dr Aloke Basu
Image caption Dr Aloke Basu drove despite cataracts in both eyes

A GP with "severely impaired" eyesight has been jailed for killing a woman in a road crash in Essex.

Dr Aloke Basu, 66, hit grandmother Shirley Watkins, 74, with his Porsche at Eastern Avenue, Southend on 5 February last year.

He was found guilty of dangerous driving in May and sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on Thursday.

Basu was jailed for two years, banned from driving for life and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,400.

Basu, of Burges Road, Southend, had cataracts in both eyes when his car hit Ms Watkins, a widow, shortly after 1330 GMT.

Bernard Richmond, mitigating, told the court his client now suffered from clinical depression and was a "broken man".

He said: "He has lost his job and never intends to drive again."

'Very quiet'

The trial heard that moments after fatally wounding Ms Watkins, Basu admitted he "didn't see" her.

Image caption Shirley Watkins was hit by Basu's Porsche 911 Carrera at Eastern Avenue, Southend

Prosecutor Gerard Pounder told jurors: "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, the court heard, was "very quiet" as he watched paramedics fight to save Ms Watkins' life. She died at the scene from multiple injuries.

Basu, who was arrested at the scene, was later found to be suffering from glaucoma cataracts which impaired his vision.

'Extraordinary' support

The court heard he had undergone surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and a specialist had told him at least twice he should inform the DVLA.

Judge Alice Robinson said support for Basu from community members, who submitted a 1,600-signature petition to the court calling for leniency, had been extraordinary.

But she added: "By not informing the DVLA about your condition you arrogantly assumed you were safe to drive."

Basu had worked as a GP at Shoebury Health Centre, Shoeburyness, for more than 30 years.

Senior investigating officer Ch Insp Dick Thomas, of Essex Police, said: "This was a very tragic incident resulting in a death that could have been avoided had Dr Basu properly recognised that his eyesight was not at the minimum required level for safe driving.

"This highlights the need for all driver's to be aware of the possible consequences of driving with ill health."

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