Death crash driver escapes jail sentence
email@example.com An Ashford man whose car struck and killed a pensioner after the two had returned from a day out to Belgium has escaped a jail sentence.
The accident happened as driver Ronald Lynch was leaving a car park in Beaver Lane, alongside Marino’s fish bar, after completing a Christmas shopping trip on a freezing December night in 2012.
Pensioner Michael Donnelly, 70, had been walking nearby when he was struck by the vehicle.
But a judge at Canterbury Crown Court ruled there had been no evidence the driver had failed to clear his windscreen of ice or mist.
Judge James O’Mahony said: “The defendant was driving very slowly and he simply didn’t see the unfortunate victim. It is a mystery how precisely it happened.”
In ordering Lynch to do 200 hours of unpaid community work, the judge said his powers of sentencing were restricted by law.
He said: “I have no magic powers ... sometimes I wish I had, but if I sent Mr Lynch to prison for 10 years it would not bring back Mr Donnelly, who was a loving family man.”
Prosecutor Paul Valder had told the court how Lynch had driven out of the car park intending to turn right onto a main road and had been driving slowly.
However, as he did so he collided with Mr Donnelly, who sustained injuries from which he died.
Lynch, 55, of Beaver Lane, had denied causing death by driving carelessly but was convicted by a jury.
Mr Valder told the court: “Had he been driving with the requisite care and attention the accident would not have happened.”
The jury had heard how on December 1, 2012, Lynch, his wife and stepson and Mr Donnelly had all been on an outing to the Christmas markets in Belgium.
They had been picked up by coach in the early morning from the car park of the Marino’s Fish Bar in Beaver Road, next door to the Beaver Inn.
The prosecutor said the coach party returned at 8.20pm. “It was cold and below freezing, but it was dry and not slippery under foot.”
Lynch, who had a good driving record, went to get his Vauxhall Cavalier, which was parked in the Beaver Inn car park, as 6ft 5in tall Mr Donnelly, of Whitfield Road, South Ashford, began walking.
An eyewitness saw him with a white carrier bag and at the same time saw the Cavalier emerging from the car park. Mr Valder said Mr Donnelly was then seen to raise his hand in an attempt to get the attention of the driver of the Cavalier and also tapped on the bonnet.
“The car stopped briefly but then pulled away, knocking Mr Donnelly to the ground and then partially over him.”
Lynch later told police that when he returned to his car after the trip “it was covered in ice” and so he started the engine.
He scraped both front and rear windows and then drove very slowly towards the exit of the car park. As he pulled away he felt “the front of the car lift slightly .. like driving over a bag of rubbish” and reversed “to remove the rubbish and then saw a man lying in the road.”
In banning him from driving for 18 months, the judge said: “The one thing that is certain is the last thing on his mind that night was doing any harm to Mr Donnelly.”
Michael Donnelly, 70, who died after being struck by a car in Beaver Road, Ashford, after an outing to the Christmas markets in Belgium
Judge James O’Mahony – “It is a mystery how precisely it happened”