Man who lied about eyesight before crashing into pedestrian is jailed

Pensioner, 81, who lied about his deteriorating eyesight so he could keep driving before killing pedestrian in horror smash is jailed

  •  Neil Pemberton, 81, had been told to stop driving nine years ago
  • On March 17 last year he collided with pedestrian Peter Westwell in Lancs

A ‘selfish’ pensioner who lied about his eyesight so he could keep driving has been jailed after he ran over and killed a pedestrian.

Neil Pemberton, 81, had been told to stop driving nine years ago due to his failing eyesight, a court heard today.

It had deteriorated to the point he could only read a number plate 2.5 metres (eight feet) away when the legal requirement is 20 metres (nearly 66ft)

But the pensioner carried on getting behind the wheel of his Honda Jazz and on March 17 last year he collided with pedestrian Peter Westwell – while travelling at more than 1 ½ times the speed limit in a built-up area.

Mr Westwell, 80, from Billington, was described by his family as ‘an active, fit, kind loving family man’ who had fought to stay independent despite his age.

He died at the scene after being thrown into the air and suffering catastrophic injuries while crossing the A666 at Langho, Lancashire.

Pemberton, of Blackburn, was driving at 48mph in a 30mph zone at the time of the collision, Preston Crown Court was told.

Neil Pemberton, 81, had been told to stop driving nine years ago due to his failing eyesight

Pedestrian Peter Westwell (pictured) died after being knocked down by Pemberton

Pemberton, who admitted causing death by dangerous driving, was jailed for 32 months.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Medland KC told him he ‘knew he was suffering from extremely poor eyesight’ and had been told ‘not to drive’.

The judge said that when he took a test in 2016, he had no vision in his right eye and very poor vision in his left eye. He had been warned twice and it was obvious that he was not fit to drive.

The judge said Pemberton ‘selfishly prioritised his own convenience by continuing to drive’ and was ‘repeatedly dishonest’ when he re-applied for his licence and indicated to the DVLA there was nothing wrong with his eyesight.

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Peter Westwell’s daughter Hazel paid an emotional tribute to her father and pleaded with people to take responsibility for their fitness to drive.

She said: ‘I really wanted to thank the people who stopped that day and tried to help my dad, it means I know he wasn’t on his own. They were all so kind.

‘Dad was walking that day because he had been told by his doctor and his family that he needed to stop driving so he did.

‘I would ask people to please take personal responsibility when it comes to their health and driving, and I would also ask family members to have that difficult conversation should they have any concerns.

She added: ‘My dad was an active, fit, kind loving family man. He fought and worked hard to stay independent and for him to die as a result of someone else’s selfish actions is almost impossible for us to bear.’

Detective Sgt Helen Parkinson, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘My thoughts are with Peter Westwell’s loved ones. They have lost a much-loved dad, grandad, brother, uncle and friend in what was an entirely avoidable tragedy.

‘Very sadly and ironically Peter was walking that day as he had been told he couldn’t drive for medical reasons.

‘Drivers have a personal responsibility to make sure our roads are as safe as possible and making sure your eyesight meets the standards of vision for driving is an important part of that, just like checking your car is in a fit state to drive.

‘Tragically, Neil Pemberton’s failure to meet that personal responsibility had all too obvious catastrophic consequences.’

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