It was 1,000 times worse for you: widow's astonishing words to driver who killed her husband

Bournemouth Echo: Mrs Machin with a picture of her late husband, Gerrard Mrs Machin with a picture of her late husband, Gerrard

A FORGIVING widow has hugged the driver who knocked down and killed her “wonderful husband", telling him "however bad it was for me, I realise it was 1,000 times worse for you."

Patricia Machin said she “bore no grudge” towards father-of-three Brian Williamson after he received a suspended prison sentence.

Fighting back tears, Patricia, 74, who penned a letter of forgiveness to Williamson just hours before he was sentenced, said: “I don't feel any ill thoughts or grudges towards Brian, not for a single moment, and I know Gerrard wouldn't either.

“It was the worst day of my life and, no doubt, the worst day of Brian's life as well. I've only ever felt sorry for him because who hasn't made a mistake when driving? I've had to get on with my life and I hope he can now do the same.”

She added: “He has suffered enough already and will have to live with what he did. I didn't want to see Brian going to prison; he is someone's son after all.”

Following the Bournemouth Crown Court hearing, Williamson, 30, sobbed as the retired medical secretary tried to console him.

Williamson, who lives in Ardfaeja, Londonderry, and now works in Germany, was employed at Bournemouth airport when tragedy struck at Durley Chine Road on December 2, 2011.

Father-of-two Gerrard Machin, 77, suffered multiple injuries in the crash and died in Poole Hospital on February 5 last year.

Williamson was found guilty of causing retired accountant Mr Machin's death by careless driving. Jurors heard how Patricia had gone to look for her husband when he failed to return to their home on Bournemouth's West Cliff from the newsagents.

She told the court: “Before Gerrard left he said he was going to make a prediction that we were going to have a wonderful Christmas and told me: 'Next year is going to be our year'. We were both so happy and he was full of hope.

“I thought Gerrard had been gone a long time. When I went out I saw Brian, a policeman and an ambulance and thought: 'Oh my goodness maybe Gerrard has witnessed an accident.' Then I saw his blue bag, containing his newspapers, against a wall and knew it was him.”

Despite the terrible shock, Patricia stood with Williamson at the roadside, comforting him in her arms as her husband was being taken away in the ambulance. Jurors heard she made repeated calls to check on his condition after the accident.

In a letter she wrote to the CPS on learning Williamson had been charged with careless driving, she wrote: 

"I have never for a single second had any sort of angry or vengeful thoughts towards this young man. Even though at the time (of the accident) I was stood beside a pool of Gerrard's blood .. I felt only pity for the driver."

A “box of treasures” Patricia keeps contains her husband's blue pyjamas and the flat cap he used to doff to her.

She also cherishes his national service medal and a medal for the voluntary work he carried out for the Sacred Heart Church on Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, where they attended together. The retired accountant also leaves a son, Anthony, and daughter Caroline.

Struggling to contain her emotions, Patricia said: "We were incredibly happy and I have to be grateful that we were married, and incredibly happy, for 13 years. Gerrard was an amazing man and a wonderful husband. I loved him so much.”

Williamson told jurors he had been affected by the glare of an oncoming vehicle. But prosecutor Rob Welling said: “If he had been paying proper attention” he would have seen Mr Machin in time to stop.

Summing up the case, Judge Wiggs said that although the pensioner had not been seen to look in either direction he was “entitled” to be able to cross safely.

“He was walking slowly. He appeared stooped and you may think he was not crossing the road in a particularly sensible place. It may be that he should've been looking out a bit better.

“But he is entitled to be able to cross the road safely without being hit by a car which comes around the corner.”

Judge Wiggs imposed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and banned Williamson from driving for two years. He was ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

Speaking after the guilty verdict, Williamson said that not a day went by when he did not think about the crash, adding: “My heart and thoughts go out to Mr Machin's family.

“Every day and every time I see a car or pedestrian I think about it. I'm always asking: 'What if? What if I had left 10 seconds later, or earlier, or had gone another way.”

The stocky Irishman told the Daily Echo how much he had appreciated Mr Machin's wife hugging and comforting him, as he stood at the roadside “in bits”. 

“It could've happened to anybody in his position or anyone like me, driving around the corner,” he said. “I've been through hell but for it must be 10 times worse for his family.”

Dear Brian...

Patricia's letter of forgiveness read: “Dear Brian. Today is a very important day and I will be in court to support you. On the day of the accident, however bad it was for me, I realise it was 1,000 times worse for you.

“Neither Gerrard, if he was here, or I feel any sense of condemnation towards you. Will you make me a promise; that you will get on with your young life, knowing that you will always be supported by my prayers?”

Referring to the letter, Williamson's barrister Scott Stemp said: “I struggle to find words to express what is conveyed through the contents and the intentions behind it. It is truly astonishing.”

Before sentencing Williamson, Judge Wiggs told him: “I read the extremely moving letter from Mrs Machin. You are very fortunate to have been forgiven.

“There is no doubt that what happened on that day was a tragedy for everyone, including you. Nevertheless you were responsible.”

Comments (13)

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6:45am Tue 19 Feb 13

Mike Pickering says...

Wow.
With her husband gone, all she can do for herself is to forgive the man who caused his death. To have that clarity of vision and purpose to be able to act lovingly towards the driver at that time, and afterwards is truly remarkable. I had to reread several of the passages to make sure I had actually understood that she never held any malice towards him. Inspiring and humbling to learn of this woman.
Wow. With her husband gone, all she can do for herself is to forgive the man who caused his death. To have that clarity of vision and purpose to be able to act lovingly towards the driver at that time, and afterwards is truly remarkable. I had to reread several of the passages to make sure I had actually understood that she never held any malice towards him. Inspiring and humbling to learn of this woman. Mike Pickering

7:47am Tue 19 Feb 13

Alumchiner says...

Awful story and very sad but a witness stated that the poor old victim had crossed the road without looking in any direction.......the driver could have been any of us and we would be stood there facing prison because of his actions. I would hardly say his driving into him was premeditated and it seems slightly unfair that he faced the loss of liberty when the victim was also responsible for the accident ? A tragedy all round.
Awful story and very sad but a witness stated that the poor old victim had crossed the road without looking in any direction.......the driver could have been any of us and we would be stood there facing prison because of his actions. I would hardly say his driving into him was premeditated and it seems slightly unfair that he faced the loss of liberty when the victim was also responsible for the accident ? A tragedy all round. Alumchiner

8:21am Tue 19 Feb 13

retry69 says...

Can only admire the ladys attitude in this very sad case but also compared to recent punishments handed out to drivers this seems a tad unjust,however saying that the judge has been known in the past to be slightly controversial.my thoughts as always with the family and friends of the victim
Can only admire the ladys attitude in this very sad case but also compared to recent punishments handed out to drivers this seems a tad unjust,however saying that the judge has been known in the past to be slightly controversial.my thoughts as always with the family and friends of the victim retry69

8:30am Tue 19 Feb 13

djd says...

My heart goes out to this lady. To be able to forgive in such a manner makes me feel extremely humble, and also so glad that there are still people like her in this world.
God Bless You.
My heart goes out to this lady. To be able to forgive in such a manner makes me feel extremely humble, and also so glad that there are still people like her in this world. God Bless You. djd

8:57am Tue 19 Feb 13

nikkip71 says...

What a wonderful lady. We could all probably learn something from her.
What a wonderful lady. We could all probably learn something from her. nikkip71

11:36am Tue 19 Feb 13

dorsetboy123 says...

What a fantastic story!

However, please correct Gerrard's name in the caption of the image at the top of the article. This sort of mistake is all too common with this publication and throughly disrespectful on the part of the Echo and the journalist of published the story.
What a fantastic story! However, please correct Gerrard's name in the caption of the image at the top of the article. This sort of mistake is all too common with this publication and throughly disrespectful on the part of the Echo and the journalist of published the story. dorsetboy123

11:41am Tue 19 Feb 13

alibluehazel says...

This is an amazing story. Interesting that the wife realised the horror the driver would go through as being the one responsible for the death of a man and forgave and supported him but the court could not.
Sometimes and I mean sometimes - society would operated better if a person with a good conscience and a truly repentent heart would be pardened and given a second chance if the victim decided to wish them no ill will. However as I write this I see the flaw in this which is sad
This is an amazing story. Interesting that the wife realised the horror the driver would go through as being the one responsible for the death of a man and forgave and supported him but the court could not. Sometimes and I mean sometimes - society would operated better if a person with a good conscience and a truly repentent heart would be pardened and given a second chance if the victim decided to wish them no ill will. However as I write this I see the flaw in this which is sad alibluehazel

2:25pm Tue 19 Feb 13

downmoor-ch63 says...

nikkip71 wrote:
What a wonderful lady. We could all probably learn something from her.
You took the words right out of my mouth, a true Lady, and Christian, you cant get a better combination. Our deepest sympathy to the widow, and may her late husband rest in peace.
[quote][p][bold]nikkip71[/bold] wrote: What a wonderful lady. We could all probably learn something from her.[/p][/quote]You took the words right out of my mouth, a true Lady, and Christian, you cant get a better combination. Our deepest sympathy to the widow, and may her late husband rest in peace. downmoor-ch63

2:59pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Mr Angry. says...

nikkip71 wrote:
What a wonderful lady. We could all probably learn something from her.
Agreed........a truly humbling story
[quote][p][bold]nikkip71[/bold] wrote: What a wonderful lady. We could all probably learn something from her.[/p][/quote]Agreed........a truly humbling story Mr Angry.

6:19pm Tue 19 Feb 13

GAHmusic says...

What a truly brave and amazing lady and huge example to us all. She is quite right bitter angerness would have ruined the rest of her life but this way she will hopefully find the peace and contentment she deserves, I'm realy touched
What a truly brave and amazing lady and huge example to us all. She is quite right bitter angerness would have ruined the rest of her life but this way she will hopefully find the peace and contentment she deserves, I'm realy touched GAHmusic

6:36pm Tue 19 Feb 13

FNS-man says...

Alumchiner wrote:
Awful story and very sad but a witness stated that the poor old victim had crossed the road without looking in any direction.......the driver could have been any of us and we would be stood there facing prison because of his actions. I would hardly say his driving into him was premeditated and it seems slightly unfair that he faced the loss of liberty when the victim was also responsible for the accident ? A tragedy all round.
Precisely why the standard of driving is so bad, and why so many people get killed. If he had been driving properly, the guy would still be alive.
[quote][p][bold]Alumchiner[/bold] wrote: Awful story and very sad but a witness stated that the poor old victim had crossed the road without looking in any direction.......the driver could have been any of us and we would be stood there facing prison because of his actions. I would hardly say his driving into him was premeditated and it seems slightly unfair that he faced the loss of liberty when the victim was also responsible for the accident ? A tragedy all round.[/p][/quote]Precisely why the standard of driving is so bad, and why so many people get killed. If he had been driving properly, the guy would still be alive. FNS-man

5:20am Wed 20 Feb 13

ASM says...

brave lady
brave lady ASM

9:06am Wed 20 Feb 13

The Liberal says...

“It could've happened to anybody in his position or anyone like me, driving around the corner”
Does this guy still believe he wasn't at fault in any way? You were found guilty, chum.
[quote]“It could've happened to anybody in his position or anyone like me, driving around the corner”[/quote] Does this guy still believe he wasn't at fault in any way? You were found guilty, chum. The Liberal

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