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Driver who killed cyclist could not read number plate three metres away

The family of Jim Tassell, fatally hit on the B3400 in Hampshire in July 2021, pleaded with "anyone who is concerned about an elderly driver to act so other families do not have to go through the pain and devastation"...

An elderly driver who hit and killed a cyclist when unable to read a registration plate three metres away has been jailed for six months for causing death by careless driving.

Peter Gardner was sentenced on Friday at Salisbury Crown Court having pleaded guilty. The court heard that the 82-year-old's eyesight had been far short of the distance motorists are required to be able to read a number plate from (20 metres), and that Gardner had been told by an optician he may be developing cataracts, but did not arrange a follow-up appointment.

Prosecutor Berenice Mulvanny told the court Gardner was driving in the same direction as Jim Tassell and, "Witnesses described [Mr Tassell] being catapulted two metres into the air. All the witnesses said Jim could be seen."

In his sentencing remarks, the judge said Gardner must have been aware his eyesight was failing before Friday 23 July 2021 when the driver hit 70-year-old Mr Tassell on the B3400 between Andover Down and Hurstbourne Priors at around 10am.

Mr Tassell was rushed to Southampton General Hospital by air ambulance but died five days later, with his family now pleading with elderly drivers to make sure they are medically and legally fit to drive.

"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," the Tassell family said in a statement.

"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."

Mr Tassell was nearing his 50th wedding anniversary and in her victim impact statement wife Stephanie said Gardner's "arrogance and selfishness" had killed her husband, while son Ben said the driver had robbed "my mum of her husband and of her world".

"It is abundantly clear that you should not have been behind the wheel of a car. You have robbed my children of the best granddad," Mr Tassell's daughter Emma added.

Police Sergeant Spencer Wragg, of the county's Roads Policing Unit, stressed all drivers, regardless of their age, "Have a responsibility to ensure they are fit and healthy".

"This was a tragic and completely avoidable death," he said.

"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

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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