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Man jailed for killing pedestrian

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A PENSIONER told by doctors not to drive because his eyesight was so bad has been jailed after he knocked down and killed a pedestrian.

Neil Pemberton’s eyesight was so bad he was only able to read a car number plate at a distance of 2.5 metres. The legal requirement is 20 metres.

Pemberton, 81, was told to stop driving nine years ago due to the issues with his eyesight but he carried on getting behind the wheel and on March 17 last year he collided with pedestrian Peter Westwell.

Mr Westwell, 80, from Billington, was crossing the A666 at Langho at the junction with Whalley Road when he was struck by Pemberton’s Honda Jazz. He was thrown into the air and suffered catastrophic injuries and sadly died at the scene.

Peter Westwell

Pemberton was driving at 48mph in a 30mph zone at the time of the collision.

Neil Pemberton, of Brownhill Road, Blackburn, has today (Wednesday, December 6) admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced today at Preston Crown Court to 32 months in jail.

Neil Pemberton

The judge Simon Medland KC told Pemberton he knew he was suffering from extremely poor eyesight and was told back in 2013 not to drive.  When he took a test in 2016 he had no vision in his right eye and very poor vision in his left eye. He had been warned twice and it was obvious that he was not fit to drive.

The judge 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 eye-sight.

Peter Westwell’s daughter Hazel paid an emotional tribute to her father and pleaded with people to take responsibility for their fitness to drive.

She 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 Sgt Helen Parkinson, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “First and foremost, my thoughts today are with Peter Westwell’s loved ones. They have lost a much-loved dad, grandad, brother, uncle and friend in what was an entirely avoidable tragedy.

“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.”