Death crash driver es­capes jail sen­tence

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Flying High - By Paul Hooper

phooper@thek­m­ 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”

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