UK pensioner who drove despite poor sight jailed over young child's death

A British pensioner who killed a three-year-old girl weeks after being told to stop driving because of poor eyesight has been jailed for four years.

John Place, who hit Poppy-Arabella Clarke and her mother Rachel on a pelican crossing in Sutton Coldfield, admitted charges of causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this month.

Today, the 72-year-old, who was not wearing his glasses and only stopped when flagged down by another driver, was sentenced at the same court.

In a statement, Poppy-Arabella's mother and father Phil, who are unable to have any more children, urged motorists to listen to medical advice.

Their lawyer called for a "Poppy-Arabella's law" requiring medical professionals to report people unfit to drive to the DVLA.

The family statement said: "On July 6, 2016, a beautiful summer day, little Poppy-Arabella, after a lovely morning playing with mummy, was excited to be heading to nursery to see her friends.

"Poppy-Arabella and I never got to nursery. Mr John Place smashed into both herself and her mummy whilst we were in the middle of a pedestrian crossing, with lights having been on red for many seconds.

"He did not swerve, he did not brake and he did not stop. He was only brought to a stop by a quick-thinking motorist who pulled into his path.

"Mr Place had been told three weeks before the collision to stop driving by two optometrists after falling far below the required eyesight standards set by the DVLA, even when he was wearing glasses.

"He had stated in his consultation 'he needed to continue to drive' even though his optometrist explained his eyesight was not good enough and his insurance may not be valid if he is involved in an accident.

"Despite understanding everything that was said to him, it was clear to the optometrist he was 'stubborn and would continue to drive'.

"As a result of Mr Place's selfish behaviour, a beautiful day became a scene of devastation.

"Our little girl lay bleeding with catastrophic injuries and her mummy too with serious injuries.

"Little Poppy-Arabella fought an incredibly brave battle at the roadside.

"She loved life and wanted to hold on to it, but she lost that battle at 6.50pm that evening, her mummy, daddy, her grandparents and her cuddly rabbit Ra Ra by her side.

"While Mr Place was today given a four-year custodial jail sentence, we have been left with a life sentence without our little girl, whose entire life was stolen from her in a fraction of a second.

"We will miss her forever, we will love her for always.

"All drivers, you have a personal responsibility to heed medical advice, to ensure you are fit to get behind the wheel.

"Likewise, close family members have a duty of care to intervene before it is too late."

They went on to thank people who rushed to help after the incident, as well as police, paramedics and medical teams.

The family's lawyer, Richard Langton, of Slater and Gordon, said: "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."

Detective Sergeant Paul Hughes, of West Midlands Police, said: "I hope that this case sends out a message to all drivers that you have a personal responsibility to heed medical advice and to ensure you are fit to get behind the wheel."

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