Havant pensioner who hit teen ‘should not have been driving’

Richard Collins, 88
Richard Collins, 88
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A PENSIONER who dashed a teenager’s university dream after running her over has been told: You shouldn’t have been driving.

Sixth form student Ellie Marchant had hopes of studying astrophysics at Oxford or Cambridge University before she was hit on her birthday by 88-year-old Richard Collins.

The Havant College student, who turned 17 on the day of the crash on November 26 last year, was thrown through the air when Collins drove on to the pavement in his Vauxhall Astra and hit her.

Fareham Magistrates’ Court heard surgeons had to replace part of Ms Marchant’s skull with a metal plate after treating blood clots from the impact, and has been left with a scar from ear to ear.

While the 18-year-old has no long-term injuries, the trauma of the crash in Park Road North, Havant forced her to repeat a year at school and drop a subject for her A-levels.

Speaking to The News, Ms Marchant’s father Bob, 64, told of his daughter’s pain after she was hit by Collins, of Mitchell Road, Havant.

And he has been left fuming after learning Collins failed a police test to read a number plate from 55ft after the accident.

‘He shouldn’t have been driving,’ said Mr Marchant, from Bosham.

‘He must have been getting worse and worse.

‘She was a straight-A student and was aiming to do astrophysics. It’s off the cards now. It’s a major step back.’

Ms Marchant had been walking with friends from Havant College to Havant train station when she was at the crossing of the Park Road North and Petersfield Road at a roundabout.

Prosecutor Colin Shackel said: ‘This is a very sad case.

‘Mr Collins was driving his Vauxhall Astra car and was travelling from Bedenham Road toward Park Road North. He was followed by a witness.

‘As Mr Collins went round the roundabout he started to move toward the Park Road North exit and a group of students had begun crossing at the time and reached the pavement.

‘But Mr Collins unfortunately drove up on to the pavement and struck one of the pedestrians, driving them into the air.’

Collins, who was unaware he had hit Ms Marchant, was given a six-month discretionary driving ban, fined £150 and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £20 victim surcharge.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of driving without reasonable consideration.

Mr Shackel added: ‘An officer spoke to Mr Collins who said that when driving on to Park Road North his visibility was impaired by the strong low sun causing him to turn to the left, the direction he believed the road to be travelling.’

Police asked Collins to read a number plate from 65ft away but he was unable to do so. He moved forward 10ft and still could not read it.

He was reported to the DVLA, which has revoked his licence – an action separate to magistrates’ sentencing.

‘You can’t say that is a man who should be behind a wheel,’ said Mr Marchant.

‘But we got the result we wanted – he was disqualified.

‘We look more to the future than we do to the past.’

The court heard Collins sent flowers to the victim and apologised ahead of the court case.

Daniel Jackson, defending, said the main cause of the accident was the low sun.

He added Collins, who was with his son in court as he is hard of hearing, is remorseful and his health has suffered following the crash.

‘Eyesight tests needed for elderly motorists’

LEADING road safety campaigners have said motorists must undergo eyesight tests every 10 years.

It comes after 88-year-old Richard Collins, of Mitchell Road, Havant, crashed into a teenager and failed a roadside vision test.

Police officers testing the pensioner found he could not fully read a number plate from 55ft away.

Brake spokesman James McLoughlin said: ‘Every driver has a personal responsibility to ensure they are fit to drive, and being able to see properly is a fundamental part of that responsibility.

‘We advise all drivers to have their eyesight tested at least every two years, and to wear glasses or lenses if they need to.

‘Brake calls on the government to make a professional eyesight test compulsory before taking a driving test, and for every ten-year licence renewal thereafter.’

Following the roadside test, the police informed the DVLA which revoked Collins’ licence.

A spokeswoman for the DVLA said drivers aged over 70 have to renew their licence every three years and tell the agency about any medical conditions.

She said: ‘All drivers are required by law to meet the appropriate eyesight standard at all times while driving.

‘DVLA regularly reminds drivers of the ongoing requirement to meet the eyesight standard and that failure to meet the standard is an offence – this is also included in the Highway Code.

‘DVLA and the police have worked closely to streamline the process for revoking a licence when the police identify that a driver’s eyesight is inadequate, which means that any driver who fails to meet the necessary standard may have their licence revoked in a matter of hours.

‘The driver could also face prosecution by the police for driving while not meeting the minimum eyesight standard.

‘The number plate test is a simple and effective assessment of vision and can be reproduced regularly by motorists to check whether they meet the standards themselves and by the police at the roadside.’

Drivers get fines of up to £1,000 for not telling the agency about a condition that affects their driving ability.

The victim’s father has criticised prosecutors after victim impact statements were not read out in court.

Bob Marchant, 64, said: ‘We were told to make these victim impact statement and they never made it to court.

‘They should have asked for an adjournment.’

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was investigating and would respond to Mr Marchant with the police.

On Collins, Mr Marchant added: ‘He must have been getting worse and worse.’