Family of woman jailed for killing cyclist blast ‘harsh’ jail-term and say she was born with severe brain damage

THE family of a disabled woman jailed over the death of a cyclist say the three-year term she was given is “too harsh”.

Auriol Grey, who has cerebral palsy and is partially blind, raised her hand at a cyclist and told her off for riding on the pavement.

Auriol Grey gestured to Celia Ward as she cycled towards herPAThe pensioner veered into the road and was hit by an oncoming carSWNSSWNSCelia Ward, pictured with husband David, died after being forced off the pavement by Grey[/caption]

PAGrey was jailed for three years on Thursday after being convicted of manslaughter at Peterborough Crown Court[/caption]

The cyclist, Celia Ward, 77, veered off the pavement in Huntingdon, Cambs, into the path of an oncoming car and was killed, Peterborough Crown Court heard this week.

Grey, 49, was jailed for three years for manslaughter, provoking an angry response from her concerned family.

Paul Watkins, 63, whose mother-in-law Janice Harcourt is her aunt, said from his Carmarthenshire home: “This sentence seems far too harsh.

“I wasn’t in court so I didn’t hear the evidence for myself, but three years in prison seems too severe on the face of it.

“When you take into account that Auriol is disabled, part-blind and had no intention to kill the cyclist.

“It seems to me that poor Auriol should have been in some kind of care.

“I can’t help wondering if this kind of care in the community is a legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s years in power.

“It is a very, very sad story all round – for the cyclist, the driver and for Auriol.

“I don’t see who benefits from sending her to jail.”

Mr Watkins, a medieval historian and piano teacher, added: “I feel very sorry for everyone involved in this terrible tragedy.”

It comes as Grey’s neighbour leapt to her defence, saying she was on her way to drop off a prescription for medication to a surgery when she interacted with tragic Celia.

She immediately left the scene to buy groceries, but the neighbour insisted she was told to.

The neighbour told The Sun: “She looked at what happened. A man came up to her saying ‘go away love, we will deal with this’.

She doesn’t show emotion like ordinary people. She’s not capable. When people react immediately it takes her ten minutes.

Auriol Grey’s neighbour

“They could see she was messed up and thought she didn’t want to see all of this. It’s catastrophic.

“She couldn’t do anything so she picked up some shopping on the way home.

“They’re saying she’s callous. That’s not the case at all.

“She doesn’t show emotion like ordinary people. She’s not capable. When people react immediately it takes her ten minutes.”

It had been alleged that she showed no remorse after the incident.

But the neighbour revealed she did write a note in her diary expressing sympathy for the situation, which was said to have not been shown in court.

He said: “She was very remorseful about what happened. “She said I can’t believe it happened. It happened so quickly.

“I don’t really remember much about it. It was a shock to her.

“She even wrote it in her diary. She wrote a note about being very sorry and very sorry for the woman who ran her over.

“The diary was never shown in court.

“The woman who ran her over was outside the car screaming. She was really upset. It really upset her.”

“It’s really hard to say how she will cope with prison. She can cut herself off. She was at a Catholic boarding school – a convent.

“It was very strict so she’s used to discipline. But she can draw herself into herself and cut herself off completely. It’s the only way she would cope.”

ABUSED IN STREET

Grey thought she would get a two year suspended sentence.

She was excited to get a two year suspended sentence, saying: “If I have to do two years I will have to do it.”

The neighbour hasn’t spoken to her since she was sentenced.

But they revealed how she has been abused when she walks down the street by people on scooters, telling her to go away, swearing at her and call her a “spastic”.

He said it has happened so often that she got used to it.

She was also abused at her school with the nuns telling her that she was going to hell and that she is a bad person and she was disabled because God is punishing her.

But the neighbour insisted: “She’s the loveliest person. Very friendly. She only goes out in the day time.

“She wouldn’t go out at night. We would to to Wetherspoons.

“She loves dogs and animals, and bird watching. When I saw her we would talk about nature. She also used to like painting.”

The case has been going on for two and a half years and has been stressing Auriol out, he said.

He added: “She bites her arm in frustration. It’s terrible. She’s been frantically biting her arm with frustration because the case has been going on and on and on.”

Grey was on Thursday jailed for three yearsSWNS:South West News ServiceA model shows how Celia would have ridden down the pavement before her tragic death[/caption]

SWNS:South West News ServiceThe scene in Huntingdon, Cambs, where the 77-year-old veered off the sidewalk she was cycling down and into the road before being hit by a car[/caption]