Woman cleared of killing pedestrian thanks women who testified about ‘runaway’ Nissans

Ann Diggles
Ann Diggles

A great-grandmother cleared of causing a fatal collision has thanked two women who came forward to testify that they too had experienced “uncommanded accelerations” in their Nissan cars.

Lawyers for retired nurse Ann Diggles, 82, argued a malfunction in the automatic transmission vehicle’s electronic throttle led to her Nissan Qashqai surging forward and killing Julie Dean, 53, outside a charity shop in Leyland.

The Crown alleged she had mistakenly pressed her foot on the accelerator rather than the brake as she tried to park up in the town on July 7 2014 and said that no fault was found on the Qashqai.

Following publicity of the trial, Sharon Davies and Naomi Taylor independently contacted Preston Crown Court to claim their automatic cars had also sped out of control and went on to give evidence in Mrs Diggles’s defence.

Mrs Davies said that her Nissan Juke ploughed into a wall at her home “incredibly quick” when her foot was not on the accelerator, while Miss Taylor said her Qashqai “sped off” on its own on a winding road before she managed to bring it to a halt.

Keen churchgoer Mrs Diggles went on to be acquitted by a jury of causing the death of Mrs Dean by dangerous or careless driving.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mrs Diggles, of Leyland, said: “ We finally have closure following the fatal accident when sadly Julie Dean lost her life. This will remain with me forever, despite the court verdict yesterday.

“I want to assure Julie’s family that they will remain in my thoughts and prayers. Waiting for closure in this case will have been very hard for them and I am sorry it has taken so long.

“The many months since the accident have been hard to cope with but I am grateful to all my family, friends and fellow members at Leyland Methodist Church for their constant love, prayers and support throughout this difficult time.

“Evidence from witnesses who responded to the media reports of trial and offered their similar experiences helped to back up our expert witness evidence that these sudden accelerations can occur. I am grateful to them for coming forward.

“Finally, I wish to thank my legal team who have supported me throughout.”

Following the verdicts, Nissan said it and the police had examined Mrs Diggles’s vehicle and found no fault which could have caused the accident.

The company said the Qashqai has “an exemplary safety record, and has been tested and complies with all safety regulations in all markets”.