Health

Shelagh Robertson Case: Not guilty by reason of insanity over the death of Louis Thorold


A pensioner accused of causing the death of a 5-month-old baby has been found not guilty by reason of insanity due to the little girl’s undiagnosed dementia.

Shelagh Robertson, 75, is on trial charged with causing death by careless driving for Louis Thorold in a fatal collision when an oncoming truck plowed down the sidewalk and hit his trolley. him and his mother, Rachel Thorold.

The jurors found that Ms Robertson’s dementia, undetected and untreated during the Covid pandemic, had affected her driving.

Cambridge Crown Court heard Ms Robertson was driving home from shopping at Tesco in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire on January 22, 2021 when she drove into the roadway of an oncoming lorry.

The collision with the truck sent it to the pavement, where it crashed and killed 5-month-old Louis Thorold, and also sent his mother, Rachael Thorold, into the air, severely injuring her.

Shelagh Robertson (pictured outside Cambridge Crown Court today), 75, was found not guilty of insanity in the death of 5-month-old Louis Thorold

Shelagh Robertson (pictured outside Cambridge Crown Court today), 75, was found not guilty of insanity in the death of 5-month-old Louis Thorold

Shelagh Robertson (pictured outside Cambridge Crown Court today), 75, was found not guilty of insanity in the death of 5-month-old Louis Thorold

Judge Mark Bishop told jurors that in order to return a particular verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, they had to be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that Robertson had amnesia at the time. and I don’t know what I’m doing or I don’t know what it is. what she did was wrong.

He says this ‘does not include momentary distraction’.

Jurors found Robertson not guilty by reason of insanity Friday after seven hours and three minutes of deliberation.

The defendant, who sat next to his attorney and a family member in the court well, used the hearing round to hear the sentencing judge read.

Robertson, of Stables Yard, Waterbeach, was expressionless as the verdict was returned after a jury deliberation for just over seven hours.

Louis’s parents Chris and Rachael Thorold, who sat in the public gallery, looked down at the floor, and Mr. Thorold shook his head.

James Leonard, the defender, said in his closing remarks that Robertson’s driving ‘clearly’ fell below the standards of a reasonable and competent driver’.

But he said Robertson was ‘unequipped to negotiate’ the junction due to her dementia and she was unaware of this as she had not been diagnosed at the time.

5-month-old baby Louis Thorold (pictured with his mother Rachael) was killed when a lorry went down the sidewalk and collided with his stroller

5-month-old baby Louis Thorold (pictured with his mother Rachael) was killed when a lorry went down the sidewalk and collided with his stroller

5-month-old baby Louis Thorold (pictured with his mother Rachael) was killed when a lorry went down the sidewalk and collided with his stroller

Prosecutor David Matthew said in his closing remarks that he did not suspect Ms Robertson had ‘a form of dementia’ in January 2021 but questioned how bad the incident was at the time. this.

Adam Zeman, a professor of cognitive behavioral neuroscience at the University of Exeter, presented the report on Ms. Robertson to the jury.

He said she suffered ‘amnesia presumably caused by Alzheimer’s disease with a somewhat atypical presentation.’

Louis' parents Chris and Rachael Thorold (pictured outside court today) sit in the public gallery, looking down at the floor, and Mr Thorold shakes his head

Louis' parents Chris and Rachael Thorold (pictured outside court today) sit in the public gallery, looking down at the floor, and Mr Thorold shakes his head

Louis’ parents Chris and Rachael Thorold (pictured outside court today) sit in the public gallery, looking down at the floor, and Mr Thorold shakes his head

Rachael Thorold was seriously injured in a collision in January 2021 as she flew into the air

Rachael Thorold was seriously injured in a collision in January 2021 as she flew into the air

Rachael Thorold was seriously injured in a collision in January 2021 as she flew into the air

Professor Zeman added that Ms Robertson would have ‘a high risk of becoming confused at that junction and one possible result of confusion is looking the wrong way.’

He added: ‘It’s a tough fork for normal healthy drivers.’

Prof Zeman said: ‘Some forms of dementia are diagnosed relatively late because of the rather subtle features.

James Leonard, defending, says Robertson is 'unequipped to negotiate' the intersection of the A10 and Car Dyke Road in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire (pictured) due to her dementia.

James Leonard, defending, says Robertson is 'unequipped to negotiate' the intersection of the A10 and Car Dyke Road in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire (pictured) due to her dementia.

James Leonard, defending, says Robertson is ‘unequipped to negotiate’ the intersection of the A10 and Car Dyke Road in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire (pictured) due to her dementia.

‘The timing of her problems becoming more severe coincides with the pandemic so there will be less chance of face-to-face contact than usual.’

The juries were shown an MRI scan of the defendant’s brain, which Professor Zeman said showed ‘shrinkage’ of a part of the brain involved in memory and language.

He said that if he encountered a patient with the ‘difficulties’ he saw in Ms Robertson, he would ‘advise them immediately not to drive’.



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