The jury is to begin deliberations in the trial against a pensioner for a crash that killed a baby

Shelagh Robertson arrives at Cambridge Crown Court (Joe Giddens/ PA) (PA Wire)

Shelagh Robertson arrives at Cambridge Crown Court (Joe Giddens/ PA) (PA Wire)

The judge in the trial of a pensioner accused of causing the death by careless driving of a baby boy, who was in a pram and was pushed along the pavement by his mother, has indicated he will send jurors out to begin their deliberations on Thursday.

Shelagh Robertson, 75, was driving home from a shopping trip to Tesco when she swerved into the path of an oncoming van on the A10 at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire on January 22 last year, Cambridge Crown Court heard.

The van collided with Robertson’s car, forcing the van onto the pavement where it struck Rachael Thorold and her five-month-old son Louis Thorold, killing the baby Louis and throwing Mrs Thorold into the air, causing her serious injuries.

Robertson, of Stables Yard, Waterbeach, denies causing the infant’s death by careless driving, while her defense team claims she is not guilty by reason of insanity, as she had undiagnosed dementia at the time.

James Leonard, defending, said in his closing speech that it was “obvious” that Robertson’s driving “fell below the standard of a reasonable and competent driver”.

But he said Robertson was “ill-equipped to negotiate” the crossroads because of her dementia and she was unaware of this as she was undiagnosed at the time.

Five-month-old Louis Thorold with his mother Rachael Thorold (Cambridgeshire Police/ PA) (PA Media)

Five-month-old Louis Thorold with his mother Rachael Thorold (Cambridgeshire Police/ PA) (PA Media)

“She’s trying to be safe, but she just doesn’t have the presence of mind to be safe,” Leonard said.

Prosecutor David Matthew said in his closing speech: “There is no doubt here that Shelagh Robertson suffers from a form of dementia and suffered from it in January 2021.”

He said an MRI scan of Robertson’s brain which showed shrinkage of a part of the brain associated with memory and language, taken last September or October, is “strong evidence of that”.

But he raised the question of “where on the precipice of dementia Shelagh Robertson was in January 2021”.

“It’s not just a question of whether someone has dementia, it’s a question of how bad it is,” he said.

Matthew said Robertson has no previous convictions.

Chris and Rachael Thorold, parents of baby Louis, arrive at an earlier hearing at Cambridge Crown Court (Joe Giddens/ PA) (PA Wire)

Chris and Rachael Thorold, parents of baby Louis, arrive at an earlier hearing at Cambridge Crown Court (Joe Giddens/ PA) (PA Wire)

The judge, Mark Bishop, told jurors that to return a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity they must be satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, Robertson had dementia at the time and either did not know what she was doing or did not know what she was doing. know what she did was wrong.

He said this “does not include a temporary failure to concentrate”.

Adam Zeman, professor of cognitive behavioral neurology at the University of Exeter, was instructed by defense lawyers to prepare a report on Robertson.

He told jurors the defendant had “dementia caused most likely by Alzheimer’s disease in a slightly atypical presentation”.

Prof Zeman said Robertson would have been at “high risk of being confused at that junction and a possible outcome of the confusion would be looking the wrong way”.

The expert witness added that Robertson had “few close relatives” and that her husband was “severely unwell”, which was significant as “it is often the spouses who bring you in” for a dementia diagnosis.

Robertson’s first cousin once removed Suzanne Adcock, who supported her in court, said in a statement read by Leonard that Robertson has no children.

Officer Adcock said she lives with her family near Inverness in Scotland and was living there at the time of the crash.

She said that “both of Shelagh’s brothers are dead”, adding: “As far as I know Shelagh only lived with her husband.

“There were no caretakers living in.”

The trial continues.

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