Man with eyesight so bad he shouldn’t have been driving jailed after killing cyclist

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An elderly driver whose eyesight was so bad he couldn’t even see the cyclist he knocked down and killed has been jailed.

Peter Gardner, 82, was sentenced to six months in prison for killing Jim Tassell, 70, near Andover, Hampshire in July last year.

At the time of the accident, Gardner was only able to read a number plate at three metres, instead of the 20 metres required by all UK drivers.

He was sent to prison by a judge at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday 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 have 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 10am 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 metres away, as opposed to the required 20 metres.”

In his sentencing remarks, the judge said Gardner must have known his eyesight was failing.

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.”

Police Sergeant Spencer Wragg, of the Roads Policing Unit, said: “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.

“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 at Home | Older Drivers.”