Hit and run driver jailed - St Albans

28/01/2014

A hit and run driver who killed an 83-year-old man in Watford town centre was jailed for 3 years 9 months today, Tuesday, 28 January 2014.

Paul Donnelly's eyesight was so bad that he should not have been behind the wheel when he struck Donald Burnett from Harrow in December 2012.  He had failed an eyesight test in October 2011 and had been told by the DVLA that he licence was revoked.

Ann Evans, prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told St Albans Crown Court that Donnelly, now 49, continued to drive the BMW car he had leased from Motability since 2009.

On Saturday, 01 December 2012, he had driven into Watford town centre to collect medication and was on his way back home down Exchange Road. At the junction of the High Street and Lower High Street he was travelling at 30 miles per hour and failed to see Mr Burnett, who had almost crossed the road from left to right.

Mr Burnett was hit by the car and sent into the windscreen. He was seriously injured and was first taken to Watford General Hospital for treatment, but was then transferred to St Mary,s Hospital in Paddington, where he died from his injuries.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Burnett's niece said: "he had lived a notable life, which was epitomised by humanity and caring."

Donnelly had driven off from the scene, but his number plate was caught on CCTV from the area and he was arrested. He said he had not stopped because he was scared.

Donnelly, of Fox Hill, Watford, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

Andrew Kerry, defending, said Donnelly was a "very very poorly man" with a number of medical conditions.

Judge Stephen Gullick told him: "You should not have been driving the vehicle because of your eyesight problems. You caused the death of a man who was there to be seen on the road for some seconds."

The judge also banned Donnelly from driving for 7 years and said that he must pass a medical examination and an extended driving test if he wants to drive again after the disqualification is over.

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