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Disqualified from driving for life

An 80-year-old man who hit and killed a cyclist has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being convicted of causing death by careless driving. George Barratt had previously had his driving licence suspended after failing roadside eye tests, but was driving without glasses on the day of the collision.

In June 2014, Ian Jobson was cycling along Lower Road in Great Bookham, Surrey, in the direction of High Street when he was hit from behind by a Peugeot 308 driven by Barratt. Jobson had to be freed from underneath the car and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The case was originally listed for trial at Guildford Crown Court in August 2015, but was adjourned until Monday April 11 at Reading Crown Court. Cycling UK reports that the delays and transfer to Reading meant that no reporters attended the trial. Much of the trial information therefore comes from Jobson's daughter Erica Popplewell, who attended throughout.

Barratt's eyesight was said to have been a major aspect of the case with his licence having been suspended in 2012 after he failed two roadside eye tests several months apart. He was driving without glasses on the day of the incident and evidence was also presented regarding a mild cognitive condition which may have affected his reactions.

Barratt was sentenced to 12 weeks' custody suspended for 12 months, and made the subject of a three-month curfew between the hours of 8pm and 8am. He was also disqualified from driving for life.

Jobson was a member of the Tandem Club and regularly rode tandem as the sighted pilot for a partially-sighted rider. He also carried out work for SeeAbility, an organisation which assists adults with visual and other disabilities.

Cycling UK asks whether further consideration needs to be given to compulsory driving re-tests for drivers beyond a certain age.

Popplewell commented:

“Anyone whose eyesight or ability to drive is deteriorating should ask themselves whether they should still be driving. I hope that what happened here also prompts people to ask their family members the same difficult question when they are aware that their eyesight is going or they are no longer safe to drive.”

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