A lawyer who knocked over and killed a 91-year-old great grandfather on a high street zebra crossing as she drove to work has walked free from court.

Charlotte Griffiths, 26, failed to spot father-of-five Basant Lal Sharma as she turned on to Wanstead High Street in her blue Ford Fiesta.

Griffiths, of Ockendon Road, Upminster, insisted Mr Sharma must have stepped out on to the crossing from behind a tree as she accelerated to 10mph in second gear.

An Old Bailey jury cleared her of causing death by careless driving yesterday (Wednesday, October 4) after a two day trial.

The court heard Mr Sharma was walking towards the zebra crossing at around 8.50am on May 31 last year as Griffiths approached a give-way junction to turn on to the High Street.

Witness Faye Parsons-Hann, a local estate agent, said the road was “completely clear” as Mr Sharma stepped on to the zebra crossing.

She told jurors: “As he was getting to the crossing the car was getting to the junction.

“He began to make his way across the zebra crossing. The car began to pull into the high road towards the zebra crossing.

“As he was approaching the middle [of the carriageway] the car turned into the road.

“I was thinking ‘this can't happen.’ He was knocked back towards the pavement. His head hit the road with force.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The scene of the crash in Wanstead High Street on May 31 last year

Mr Sharma hit his head on the ground and died in hospital from severe head injuries a few hours later.

Griffiths, then 24, told police officers at the scene she had “no idea” how the accident happened and later added: “Oh my God, I've just killed someone's Dad.”

She said in interview: “I just came round the corner in second gear and he must have just stepped out.

“There was no one there when I came out of the junction, he must have been behind the trees.”

Griffiths, who has no penalty points on her licence, was not affected by drugs or alcohol and there was no evidence she was distracted by her mobile phone.

She said she did not see Mr Sharma until she heard a “bang” as he rebounded off the wing mirror.

Griffiths said: “If I had seen a man standing there I would have stopped. He wasn't on the crossing.

“He must have been coming from behind the tree, that's the only explanation for it.”

She added: “I went into meltdown and panicking.

“I didn't know what was going on, he was lying on the floor and I was kneeling down next to him. I just kept saying ‘I'm sorry’.”

Griffiths denied and was cleared of one count of causing death by careless driving.