A MUM was killed when she was dragged under the van of a careless driver in a supermarket car park.

Clair Coope, 45, had been shopping at Tesco in Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne, when she was hit by a vehicle in the car park.

Horrified shoppers cried out to driver Neil Manser, 60, begging him to stop.

He had not seen the mother-of-two and was instead focused more on getting his parking space.

Mrs Coope, a nursery school operations manager, died from her injuries, leaving her family devastated.

Manser appeared at Lewes Crown Court where he admitted causing death by careless driving.

It was revealed the diabetic had lost his wife of 28 years to lung cancer just five months before the horror crash.

He apologised to Mrs Coupe’s children, husband, family and friends in the hearing, where it was revealed he has since been suicidal.

Her Honour Judge Christine Laing QC imposed a six-month suspended sentence, and said there was no sentence she could pass that would reflect the loss of the “extraordinary” Mrs Coope.

Kyle Fournillier, prosecuting, said the tragedy unfolded on December 12, 2019.

The Argus: The Tesco store at Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne, where the incident happenedThe Tesco store at Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne, where the incident happened

Witnesses saw Manser attempt to reverse into a parking bay, but he became frustrated as it was too small for his Volkswagen Transporter van.

So he drove around the busy car park, and when he saw a space with hatched-lined sides, he drove into it at low speed, hitting Mrs Coope.

She would have been visible for four seconds, but Manser did not see her.

After feeling a bump, he believed he had run over a shopping bag, but other shoppers cried out to him to stop.

Mr Fournillier said: “He drove forward and exited the vehicle, and was described as looking obviously shaken. He did not realise he had hit someone.”

Mrs Coope’s husband Joe Coope said: “The many messages of support I have received have confirmed how much Clair meant to so many people and the positive part she played in our family, friends and work colleagues’ lives.

“I find solace in the fact that what we had together, many people spend their whole lives trying to find without success. Our last words to each other were ‘I love you’.”

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Paul Rogers, defending, said his client is “truly and deeply remorseful for what he has done”.

“He should have seen her, and that momentary inattention has changed his life and the families' lives,” Mr Rogers said. “When he got out of the vehicle, the enormity of what had happened became clear.”

Judge Laing QC said the case was a “tragedy” and said Mrs Coope was in the prime of her life.

She said: “I have no doubt your attention was on the space you had seen that was big enough for the vehicle. You tragically allowed yourself to be distracted to not notice or check that there was no one by your vehicle.

The Argus: Clair Coope was killed in the incidentClair Coope was killed in the incident

“This case is a powerful reminder of the responsibilities all of those who drive bear when they get behind the wheel.

“We have the responsibility to be attentive at all times when manoeuvring, particularly somewhere such as a supermarket car park where the presence of pedestrians is almost inevitable.”

Manser, of Roseveare Road, Eastbourne, was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and was banned from driving for three years.

He must also take an extended retest before he is allowed to drive again.

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