Peter Gardner: Pensioner with poor eyesight, 82, jailed for six months for killing cyclist in 'reckless' crash
ANDOVER, HAMPSHIRE: An elderly driver with extremely poor eyesight was jailed for killing a cyclist near Andover, Hampshire on July 23, 2021. Peter Gardner, 82, was sentenced to six months in prison for killing Jim Tassell, 70, as he reportedly couldn't even see the cyclist he knocked down. According to Daily Mail, Gardner told that his eyesight was so bad he couldn't read a number plate from 10 feet away. He was only able to read a number plate at three meters, instead of the 20 meters required by all UK drivers.
The 82-year-old was sent to prison by a judge at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday, September 2, after he admitted causing death by careless driving. A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said, "The family of a man who was killed in a collision near Andover has called on drivers to check their eyesight. Peter Gardner, aged 82 years, of Bloswood Lane, Whitchurch, Hampshire, was driving a silver Vauxhall Vectra when he collided with cyclist Jim Tassell from behind and knocked him off his bike. The incident happened on the B3400 between Andover Down and Hurstbourne Priors at about 10 am on Friday, July 23, 2021. Mr Tassell, a 70-year-old from Andover, was taken by air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital where he sadly died five days later. On Friday at Salisbury Crown Court, Gardner was jailed for six months for causing death by careless driving after pleading guilty. The court heard he was only able to read a registration plate at three meters away, as opposed to the required 20 meters."
Tassell, described as a "loving grandfather," was out cycling at 10 am on a clear summer day when the pensioner's car plowed into him, catapulting him six feet in the air. A court also heard the retired rail worker had previously been warned by an optician he may be developing cataracts, over 18 months before the crash but had failed to arrange a follow-up appointment.
In his sentencing remarks, the judge said Gardner must have known his eyesight was failing. Judge Andrew Barnett said there was nothing that cyclist Tassel was doing wrong at the time of the accident and criticized Gardner's "recklessness and foolishness."
"Conditions were fine, the sun was out, but there was nothing significantly interfering with your vision other than the fact your eyesight was deteriorating," said the judge. "I am told that you hadn't noticed any deterioration of your eyesight. I find it hard to believe you had not realized as you had continued to drive to the period of the collision. It must have been obvious to you that you were not seeing things as you should. You have brought devastation, misery and despair upon the Tassell family. I have heard from Jim's widow and two children who you have robbed of their husband and father, tearing a hole in their family. You, and you alone, have to live with that responsibility for the rest of your life," he added.
Tassell was approaching his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Stephanie, who described her husband as "loving" and "kind". Following the sentencing, the Tassell family said, "We are pleased the judge imposed a custodial sentence as this gives us a small piece of justice. We hope this sentence acts as a warning to any elderly driver with poor eyesight to ensure they are medically and legally fit to drive. We urge anyone who is concerned about an elderly driver to act so other families do not have to go through the pain and devastation that was inflicted upon us."
"This was a tragic and completely avoidable death. If Peter Gardner had made sure he was safe to drive then this collision would not have happened, saving the Tassell family the pain and turmoil they have been through," police sergeant Spencer Wragg, of the Roads Policing Unit, said.
"All drivers, no matter their age, have a responsibility to ensure they are fit and healthy. By getting behind the wheel with poor eyesight, you are putting your own life and the lives of other innocent road users at risk. If you are concerned about your eyesight, or the eyesight of a loved one who drives, please find help and advice," the cop added.