Elderly friends killed by Audi A3 driver with poor eyesight who knew he shouldn't be on the road
and live on Freeview channel 276
A visually impaired motorist ploughed into two elderly friends as they crossed a road on their way home from an afternoon social club causing them catastrophic fatal injuries.
A court heard that Glyn Jones, now 68, should not have been driving at all and had been repeatedly told that by opticians as his eyesight fell below the necessary standard because of a progressive eye disease.
But on the day of the tragedy, the engineer had driven 35 miles involving travelling to work in Bootle and was on his way to Southport to pick up his wife when he struck 79-year-old great grandmother Mary Marie Cunningham and Grace Foulds, 85.
Jailing him for seven years four months Judge Neil Flewitt, KC, said that the joy the victims had brought to their families and friends had been replaced by sorrow. “All that is your responsibility Glyn Jones. It is your responsibility because of your selfish and grossly irresponsible decision to drive when you knew it was not safe to do so and for that you must be punished," he said.
Judge Flewitt added: “The whole cause of their deaths was your dangerous driving... the reason you hit them is that you simply did not see them. The reason you did not see them is that your eye sight was so bad that you should not have been driving.”
White haired Jones, of Blackgate Lane, Tarleton, West Lancashire, who pleaded guilty to two offences of causing death by dangerous driving showed no emotion during the hearing. The 68 year old, who has already had his driving licence revoked, was also banned from driving for nine years 10 months.
Henry Riding, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that the tragedy occurred at 4.35 pm on November 30, 2021 when the two pensioners were crossing Lulworth Road, in Birkdale. They were returning home after getting a bus from Southport and they had crossed the southbound carriageway and were in the opposite carriageway when they were struck by Jones' Audi A3.
Although it was dusk and two of the street lamps were defective road conditions were described as 'fine and dry' and visibility good. Jones’s speed along the 30 mph road was estimated at between 28 - 38 mph.
The two women were struck by the front of his car and Mrs Foulds came to rest some distance in front of it and Mrs Cunningham behind. CCTV footage showed the defendant did not brake prior to impact.
Mr Riding said that Jones was then stationary for 10 seconds and 'then drove forwards slightly in an upwards and downwards motion before stopping again at which point Mrs Cunningham became visible to the rear of the vehicle'. He said that the injuries suggest that he may have driven over Mrs Cunningham but it was not known if her injuries from the initial impact were survivable.
Jones remained at the scene while members of the public came to give aid and then paramedics. The two victims sustained multiple injuries and Mrs Foulds, who was Maltese, was declared dead at 17.50 and her friend at 21.41.
Mr Riding said that Jones failed a roadside driving eyesight test and subsequent investigations showed that the defendant had been diagnosed with the progressive eye disease advanced Keratoconus more than ten years ago.
He had had various eye tests over the years and despite surgery on one eye for corneal scarring and trying new contact lenses he was again told his eyesight was not good enough for driving.
After the crash expert stated that he would have had considerable difficulties trying to use his two eyes together and would have suffered with glare and blurred vision due to the operation on his right eye and corneal scarring on his left eye.
When interviewed Jones, who has no previous convictions, said that he thought his eyesight had improved but realised in hindsight “I may have been mistaken in my belief that my vision was such to meet the required driving standards. For this I am truly regretful.”
In a victim impact statement one of Mrs Cunningham’s five children told how she had been head of an extensive family of at least 100 and had a busy social life. She had moved to Southport in 1984 where she later retired and was devastated when her husband died in 2011.
Described as 'a social butterfly' who loved helping people and keeping fit, her daughter Sue Rimaitis said they were told at hospital that she had been hit with so much force her injuries were not survivable. “Our poor lovely mum lay there in pieces.”
A devout Catholic she was given the last rites before her life support was turned off and the anaesthetist who announced her death said that he had never seen so many people with so much for someone and was himself overwhelmed.
Her son Stephen Cunningham said she had been 'killed by a driver who cared not for anyone apart from his own selfish needs'.
A family statement concluded: “Mum died helping her friend to cross the road - doing what she did best, helping others. Nothing can bring mum and Grace back, this tragedy was unnecessary and unwarranted through selfishness, recklessness, a clear disregard for the law and safety of others.”
Mrs Foulds’ daughter Mary Clarke told how her mum’s grandson, wife and great grandson were due to fly over from Australia for the first time since the Covid lockdown. “It was going to be a big surprise for you meeting them all. Minutes later after a frantic phone call I’m identifying you on a hospital trolley.”
Oliver Jarvis, defending, said that Jones had pleaded guilty at an early stage. “There is no doubt that the defendant should have declared his condition to the DVLA. There is no doubt he was not in a fit state to drive, we know he had been told specifically not to drive.” He continued that somehow Jones seemed to have put to the back of his mind the advice not to drive.
Mr Jarvis said Jones had worked all his life here and abroad as an engineer and latterly as a locum lecturer but is now retired. He is a married man with grown up children and has various health difficulties. “He is struggling to comprehend the enormity of the consequences of his actions.”