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‘Selfish’ motorist, 81, with poor eyesight who fatally hit pedestrian is jailed

Neil Pemberton, 81, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for 32 months at Preston Crown Court, police said (Alamy/PA)
Neil Pemberton, 81, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for 32 months at Preston Crown Court, police said (Alamy/PA)

An 81-year-old man told by doctors nine years ago to stop driving because of his poor eyesight has been jailed for knocking down and killing another pensioner.

Neil Pemberton, 81, was able to a read a car number plate at a distance of only 2.5 metres when the legal requirement is 20 metres, said Lancashire Police.

Pemberton ignored doctors and continued to get behind the wheel, police added.

On March 17 last year he fatally struck pedestrian Peter Westwell, 80, in the village of Langho near Blackburn, Lancashire.

Mr Westwell was crossing the A666 when he was hit by the defendant’s Honda Jazz car and thrown into the air. He suffered catastrophic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pemberton was driving at 48mph in a 30mph zone at the time of the collision, Preston Crown Court heard.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for 32 months, police said.

Judge Simon Medland KC said Pemberton selfishly prioritised his own convenience by continuing to drive and was repeatedly dishonest when he re-applied for his licence and indicated to the DVLA there was nothing wrong with his eyesight.

Mr Westwell’s daughter Hazel said: “I really wanted to thank the people who stopped that day and tried to help my dad, it means I know he wasn’t on his own. They were all so kind.

“Dad was walking that day because he had been told by his doctor and his family that he needed to stop driving, so he did.

“I would ask people to please take personal responsibility when it comes to their health and driving and I would also ask family members to have that difficult conversation should they have any concerns.

“My dad was an active, fit, kind, loving family man. He fought and worked hard to stay independent and for him to die as a result of someone else’s selfish actions is almost impossible for us to bear”.

Detective Sergeant Helen Parkinson said: “Very sadly and ironically Peter was walking that day as he had been told he couldn’t drive for medical reasons.

“Drivers have a personal responsibility to make sure our roads are as safe as possible and making sure your eyesight meets the standards of vision for driving is an important part of that, just like checking your car is in a fit state to drive.

“Tragically, Neil Pemberton’s failure to meet that personal responsibility had all too obvious catastrophic consequences.”