OAP with bad eye­sight told to stop driv­ing weeks be­fore killing tod­dler on cross­ing

Daily Mail - - News - By Andy Dolan

A PEN­SIONER who mowed down a tod­dler as she crossed the road had been told by an eye spe­cial­ist he was un­fit to drive just three weeks ear­lier.

Yes­ter­day John Place, 72, was jailed for four years for caus­ing the death of three- year- old Poppy-Ara­bella Clarke af­ter he hit her and her mother at a pedes­trian cross­ing as he ran through a red traf­fic light.

The court had ear­lier heard that the ‘reck­less’ OAP had shown ‘no re­morse’ over the tod­dler’s death.

Poppy-Ara­bella and her mother rachel had been walk­ing to nurs­ery when Place ploughed into them last July. He did not even brake, and car­ried on down the road un­til he was stopped by an­other mo­torist who swerved to block his progress.

Just three weeks ear­lier an op­tometrist had warned him his eye­sight was far be­low the re­quired stan­dard needed for driv­ing, even when he wore his glasses. But the sight ex­pert noted that Place was ‘stub­born and would con­tinue to drive’.

At the time of the in­ci­dent, Place – who pleaded guilty to caus­ing death and serious in­jury by dan­ger­ous driv­ing – was not even wear­ing his glasses. He ini­tially told po­lice of­fi­cers he had not seen the red light or the cross­ing it­self.

But the OAP then claimed the sun had been in his eyes – even though it was be­hind his car at the time of the in­ci­dent in Bold­mere, Sut­ton Cold-

‘Reck­lessly got be­hind the wheel’

field, West Mid­lands. Yes­ter­day Mrs Clarke read out a heart-break­ing vic­tim im­pact state­ment in which she de­scribed how Place had ‘vi­o­lently ex­tin­guished the light’ from her daugh­ter.

Fol­low­ing sen­tenc­ing, a lawyer for the fam­ily said the case showed that new rules should be drafted re­quir­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als aware of a per­son’s in­abil­ity to drive safely to re­port them to the DVLA.

Jail­ing him at Birm­ing­ham Crown Court, Judge Si­mon Drew QC said Place, of Sut­ton Cold­field, had been ‘wholly un­aware the lights were on red, or that peo­ple were cross­ing the road.’ He was also banned from driv­ing for five years upon his re­lease.

Mrs Clarke, who was left in a wheel­chair for a month af­ter the col­li­sion, sobbed as she told the court of the ‘mag­i­cal con­nec­tion’ she en­joyed with her only child. She said: ‘i once had a daugh­ter, a lit­tle shadow who was al­ways by my side, a lit­tle girl who i know loved me ... Mr Place vi­o­lently ex­tin­guished the light she gave to all by frac­tur­ing her skull.’

in a state­ment, Mrs Clarke con­demned Place for in­sist­ing he ‘needed to con­tinue to drive’ even when warned his in­sur­ance may not be valid if he had an ac­ci­dent.

The fam­ily’s lawyer richard Lang­ton, of Slater and Gor­don, said: ‘[ Place] chose to reck­lessly get be­hind the wheel of his car and in do­ing so cut short the life of an innocent lit­tle girl ... A last­ing legacy would be Poppy-Ara­bella’s law, re­quir­ing any med­i­cal pro­fes­sional aware of a per­son’s in­abil­ity to drive safely to re­port them to the DVLA so that their li­cence is with­drawn.’

Dead: Poppy-Ara­bella

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