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