A HARBURY father-of-three was killed in a hit-and-run in the United States – but his killer will not be going to jail.
Kenneth Watkinson, 48, who lived in Percival Drive with his wife Kirsty and one of his three children, was killed instantly, along with his business partner Craig Elford, when the pair were struck from behind by a Porsche 911 Turbo in Florida two years ago.
Police later arrested the driver, 35-year-old Ryan LeVin, who had sped off at 100mph immediately after hitting the two men.
But because of a confidential money settlement between LeVin and the victims’ families, he will spend the next two years under ‘house arrest’ at his parents’ oceanfront apartment with private beach in Fort Lauderdale.
LeVin, the heir to his parents’ Chicago-based business Jewels by Park Lane, was sentenced by Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy last Friday after pleading guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide.
He was also banned from driving for life and ordered to do 1,000 hours of community service.
Prosecutors had asked for LeVin, who has previous convictions for drug and motoring offences and in 2006 injured a police officer and two others in a car chase, to be jailed for at least ten years. But under Florida law, victims’ families are able to urge leniency for defendants. It means they can avoid lengthy civil lawsuits in exchange for gaining compensation from criminals.
Jonathan Pavsner, the Florida-based lawyer for Kenneth Watkinson’s widow Kirsty, said that keeping LeVin out of prison had been a dilemma, but that it had achieved important goals, including keeping him off the roads for life, while forcing a guilty plea and financial acknowledgement of his crime.
Mr Watkinson and Mr Elford, of Ratley near Banbury, who together ran Warwick-based Concept Medical Ltd and Ingala Healthcare in Stratford, had arrived in Fort Lauderdale just hours before their deaths.
They were 50 yards from their hotel when they were hit by LeVin, who was believed to have been taking part in a ‘drag race’ at the time. Mr Watkinson had completed the Leamington Regency Run and Stratford Triathlon in 2008 and had also run the London Marathon.