A WIDOW has spoken of her “heartbreak” after her husband was killed when a driver hit the accelerator of her automatic car rather than the brake.

Retired railway signalling engineer David Frederick Harris, who was 70, was jogging along the seafront in Swanage when he was struck by a Vauxhall Zafira on the morning of April 2. He was pinned beneath the car when it hit the beach, and suffered fatal injuries.

Supermarket worker Gillian Richings, 68, had been leaning out of the open door of the vehicle as she parked it in Shore Road when she accidentally accelerated instead of braking.

The open driver’s side door hit a lamppost and Richings was dragged from the vehicle.

The driverless car then continued moving at speed, ploughing into Mr Harris as he attempted to get out of the way.

Members of the public lifted the vehicle off him, and police officers, firefighters, coastguard officials, paramedics and an air ambulance crew rushed to the scene. However, Mr Harris, who lived in Ulwell Road, Swanage, died of his injuries on the beach.

Witnesses who spoke with Richings after the collision told police she said: “I meant to press the brake but I hit the accelerator.”

Yesterday, Richings admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention at Poole Magistrates’ Court.

The defendant, of Victoria Avenue in Swanage, spoke quietly to confirm her name, date of birth and address before pleading guilty.

A victim impact statement written by Mr Harris’s widow Rosemary was read aloud to the court.

In it, she said she had been “dreading writing about [her] darling husband.”

“How can I begin to explain [my] overwhelming, devastating, heartbroken feelings?” she said.

“He was my husband, my best friend and my constant companion.”

Mrs Harris also spoke of the “hate and anger” she feels for “the woman who killed [her] husband and has never apologised.”

“We were really happy and looking forward to a happy future together,” she said.

“She has taken all that away from us and destroyed our lives and future.”

Desmond Reynolds, mitigating for Richings, offered the defendant’s “profound and public apology” to Mr Harris’s family and friends.

“She particularly apologises to Rosemary Harris, who has suffered a terrible loss,” he said.

“She had owned her semi-automatic car for around a month. She had driven an automatic before, but not for at least 10 years.”

Mr Reynolds said Richings made a “terrible error” by not turning her engine off and bringing the car out of reverse before leaning out to check its position in the road,

Richings was issued with her driving licence in 1986, and has no points on it.

She was sentenced to a 12-month driving disqualification and ordered to complete 120 hours of community service in the next 12 months.

In addition she must pay a £150 fine and an £85 surcharge.