A man has been jailed after causing the death of a pensioner by dangerous driving.
Neil Pemberton had issues with his eyesight and could only read a car’s number plate from a distance of 2.5 metres. Legally, the requirement is to be able to read them from a distance of 20 metres.
The 81-year-old was told to stop driving nine years ago due to his sight problems, but fatally got behind the wheel on March 17 last year. It was then that he collided with pedestrian Peter Westwell whilst he crossed the A666 at Langho.
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The road is at the junction with Whalley Road and Mr Westwell was crossing this when he was struck by Pemberton’s Honda Jazz. He was then thrown into the air and suffered catastrophic injuries and died at the scene.
At the time of the collision, Pemberton was driving 48mph in a 30mph zone. Today (Wednesday, December 6) Pemberton of Brownhill Road, Blackburn admitted death by dangerous driving.
He was sentenced to 32 months in jail at Preston Crown Court. The judge, Simon Medland KC told the driver he knew he had poor eyesight but still got behind the wheel, despite being told not to in 2013.
When he took a test in 2016, Pemberton found he had no vision in his right eye and very poor vision in his left. He was then warned twice that it was obvious he couldn’t drive due to these problems.
The judge said Pemberton prioritised his own convenience by driving and was repeatedly dishonest when he re-applied for his licence and indicated to the DVLA there was nothing wrong with his eyesight.
In an emotional tribute, Mr Westwell’s daughter Hazel pleaded with people to be responsible with their fitness to drive. Hazel 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.
“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 the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “First and foremost, my thoughts today 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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