An 82-year-old motorist who left a cyclist with life-changing injuries after running him over, and then applied to renew his driving licence days later, has been told by a judge, “You should hang your head in shame."
Derby Crown Court was told that in May 2016, motorist Gilroy Tennant "failed to give way" to cyclist Austin Finley, who was turning right from Derby Road, Sandiacre, into Brooke Street.
The Derby Telegraph reports that the cyclist was unable to avoid the collision and was thrown onto the bonnet of Tennant’s car before landing on the road, said Sarah Allen, prosecuting.
"He then watched in horror as the defendant's car continued to drive very slowly towards him at about 3mph,” she said.
“The defendant proceeded to drive over him, his front wheels went up onto his torso and he was terrified that he would drive over him with the rear wheels too.
She added: "The defendant did eventually stop and came to a rest with Mr Finley's head just under the driver's door with the weight of the car on him."
It took the emergency services 20 minutes to free the cyclist, whose injuries included a broken collarbone, 11 broken ribs and a collapsed lung as well as internal bleeding.
In a victim impact statement, he said: "As I lay in the road I watched as the car approached me very slowly. He must've seen me – I was on the bonnet moments before.
"What happened next was the most harrowing experience I've ever witnessed. I was left trapped under the vehicle with the weight of it crushing my chest for 20 minutes – it was extremely traumatic.”
He continued: "I didn't know whether I was going to die or not and if it wasn't for the excellence of the emergency services it could have been fatal.
"This has caused severe and long-lasting anguish for me and my family. My wife was brought to hospital not knowing whether I was alive or not and my son travelled back from university in Wales not knowing whether he would see his dad alive.
“My mum was very ill and passed away soon after the incident.
"The driver of the car showed no remorse,” Mr Finley added. “He could've stopped his car. The fact that I was not killed at the scene was down to pure luck. If the car was another inch higher it would have crushed my neck, and six inches higher my head.
"How can any human being be so callous to reapply for a driving licence?"
Pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, Tennant was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and an eight-year ban from driving.
Sentencing Tennant, Judge Peter Cooke described the incident as an "astonishing manifestation of poor reactions.”
He said: “It came as close to fatal as this could have been. You were interviewed by police about the accident and you accepted no responsibility whatsoever. You blamed the crash on the cyclist and you actually applied for a fresh driving licence.
“That is shocking. You should hang your head in shame.”
The case raises the issue of whether older drivers should be required to undergo mandatory retesting in order to retain their licences, something the charity Cycling UK has called for.
Last year, motorist George Barrett was convicted of causing the death through dangerous driving in 2014 of cyclist Ian Jobson. The driver was aged 78 and had defective vision at the time of the fatal incident, but was not wearing glasses.
After Barrett was banned from driving for live and given a suspended prison sentence, the charity Cycling UK said that it recognises that sentencing elderly and otherwise law-abiding citizens for driving offences, when they have a long and largely unblemished driving record, is an unenviable task for judges more accustomed to punishing offenders they perceive the prisons were designed for.”
However, it added that the case in question “raises the increasingly important issue of how, with an ageing population where people want to maintain independence and continue driving as long as possible, the DVLA regulates and tests the fitness to drive of those whose reactions, sight and road confidence are declining.”
In 2013, legislation known as ‘Cassie’s Law’ was introduced after the death of an 11-year-old girl hit by a car driven by 87-year-old Colin Horsfall, who had failed a police eyesight test days earlier.
Cycling UK added: “Should some of these drivers still be on the roads, should we be looking again at driver re-testing, and how do we ensure that medical fitness to drive involves more than self-certification?”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.