Driver from Leamington who killed pensioner 'he simply did not see' gets suspended sentence

A driver who killed a pensioner he ‘simply did not see’ crossing the road ahead of him as he drove home from work has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 9:43 am

Jack Godwin had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing the death of 83-year-old Kenneth Young in September last year by careless driving.

Godwin (25) of Wellington Road, Leamington, was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for two years, and was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay £550 costs.

Prosecutor Simon Hunka said that Mr Young had moved to the area from Southampton about three years ago to be nearer to his daughter, who lived in Warwick.

Jack Godwin

At around seven in the evening on September 22 Mr Young parked his car on the opposite side of the road to visit her, as he did on a daily basis.

He was described by witnesses as hurrying as he crossed the road diagonally from where he had parked, going in the same direction as Godwin’s blue Honda Accord from its right.

He was past the centre of the road when he was struck by the nearside of the Honda, which Mr Hunka said was travelling within the 30mph speed limit.

If there had been no traffic coming in the opposite direction to obstruct his view, and there was no evidence there was, Godwin should have been able to have seen the pensioner for a few seconds.

But when he was questioned he said he had not been doing anything to distract himself – but ‘simply did not see’ Mr Young who he claimed had ‘come from nowhere.’

Mr Hunka pointed out that although Godwin’s brakes were poorly maintained and one tyre was under-inflated while another was over-inflated, that was not believed to have contributed to the tragic collision.

But Judge Barry Berlin said it was a ‘general aggravating feature’ that the car was in a poor condition, ‘even if is not specific to the offence.’

Mr Young, who was described as being ‘in relatively good heath,’ and who was involved with the Leamington Choir, suffered severe injuries from which he was declared dead at the scene, despite the efforts of paramedics.

Nick Devine, defending, who pointed out Godwin was of previous good character, said: “There is clear evidence from the letter he has written and from the pre-sentence report of remorse.

"There is clear evidence this has had an impact on him.”

He said Godwin worked as a self-employed scaffolder, and whatever sentence was passed on him, that would become difficult because of the loss of his driving licence.

Suggesting Godwin could be given a community sentence, Mr Devine added: “Prison in these circumstances, for a man like Mr Godwin, I would suggest is something Your Honour could draw back from.”

Sentencing Godwin, Judge Berlin also banned him from driving for 18 months and ordered that he take an extended test before getting his licence back.

The judge told him: “Kenneth Young was 83 years old when he died crossing the road. No court and no sentence can hope to ease the devastation and anguish caused by your action.

“But the family will realise this court must deal with the culpability of the offender, and not just focus on the terrible harm the offender has caused.

“These are plainly tragic circumstances, and you were careless in not spotting him crossing the road in front of you.

“I do find there were aggravating features. They did not contribute to the collision, but they are nonetheless aggravating features which I must take account of.

“I have read the pre-sentence report and the character references, and your letter to the family. This is plainly something you are seriously remorseful about, as you should be.”