Inquest hears how husband runs over his wife in her own car before crashing through a neighbour's fence and smashing into a shed leaving her trapped screaming "get it off me"
Neighbours have described hearing a pensioner screaming “get it off me” when she was discovered trapped under her own car after her husband had run her over and dragged her through a fence before crashing into a shed.
Maureen Maycroft died almost a week after being run over by her grey Peugeot 307 by husband Thomas Maycroft in a cul-de-sac in rural Norfolk. The couple had only been married for two years but were said to have been “very happy” together by residents of Sutton’s Close, in Outwell, near Wisbech.
Paul Athler was sitting in his lounge watching TV when he heard the 69-year-old’s screams for help before hearing a car smash through his fence and crash into his shed on March 5, 2014.
“When I opened my door, she was still screaming ‘get it off me’ and I could see she was trapped underneath the car in my back garden. I called for an ambulance and was on the phone telling them what happened and also telling the woman to calm down when I could see that the driver was still in the car,” Mr Athler said in a statement to police which was read out at the inquest hearing in King’s Lynn.
“The passenger window was down so I spoke to the driver and he was in pieces. He was crying and shaking. I told him to turn off the engine and get out the car, which he did. I then held the woman’s hand while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. The driver kept saying that he didn’t mean to hurt her and that the car ran away from him.”
Fellow neighbour Ruth Shaw said she knew the couple very well and that they were “very happy together”. In a statement also read out to the court, she confirmed Maureen owned the Peugeot and that Mr Maycroft, also known by his middle name Harold, doesn’t drive.
“I was sitting in my front room with my husband Derek when all of I sudden I heard a scream from outside and I looked out of the window and could see a car flying backwards and going through the fence at number 5 before hitting a brick wall. When we got over there, I spoke to Harold and he said ‘I have never been in a car like this before’. He was shaken, upset and he was crying. He kept saying ‘I wouldn’t hurt her for the world’.”
Mr Maycroft told the hearing his marriage was a “happy one” before describing his wife, who was born in August 1944, as “a lovely, decent woman”. The couple had only known each other for six months before they wed.
Wearing a blue jacket, trousers and shirt, the 85-year-old said the day of the crash was a Wednesday and that was the day of the week she would go shopping with her sister.
Describing what happened, he told Monday’s hearing: “She said she had one brake light that was bigger than the other so she wanted to check it because she had been stopped by the police twice and didn’t want to be stopped again so she told me to get into the car and put my foot on the brake. She was behind the car but I couldn’t really see her.
“I put my foot on the pedal that I thought was the brake and the car went back fairly fast, hit the fence and then the corner of the shed. When I got out I said that I wanted to do something to help but my neighbour said ‘you can’t do anything Harold. Come back to mine for a cup of tea’.”
PC Paul Mckay, forensic road collision investigator at Norfolk Police, told the hearing he found no defects to the car before adding that all the lights were working correctly.
He confirmed no proceedings had been started as a result of what happened because there was no evidence to suggest the actions by Mr Maycroft were conscious ones.
He also described Mrs Maycroft’s decision to let her inexperienced, elderly partner get behind the well as “poor”.
After firefighters managed to lift the car and free Mrs Maycroft, paramedics performed CPR on her as her husband watched on. She died on March 11, 2014 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire.
A post-mortem said Mrs Maycroft died as a result of a brain injury caused by cardiac arrest which was caused by trauma.
“It’s clear that this was a tragic accident, which need not to have happened,” said Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake, who recorded a verdict of accidental death. “Mr Maycroft got into a vehicle he had not driven before – indeed he hasn’t even passed his driving test.
“He clearly did not know how the car worked and put his foot down on the accelerator which resulted in the car hitting his wife and she died as a result of her injuries.”
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