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28th Jan 2023

Pedestrian, 84, killed by driver, 96, who had been warned about eyesight

Charlie Herbert

Pedestrian, 84, killed by driver, 96, who had been warned about eyesight

He was unable to read a number plate from 7 metres away

A 96-year-old man who had been warned not to drive by an optician has been jailed after killing an 84-year-old pedestrian.

William Beer hit Illtyd Morgan on Bedwas Road, Caerphilly, on April 6, 2021.

He pleaded guilty at Newport Crown Court to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to two years and four months behind bars.

The court heard that Beer appeared “at the last minute”. He then failed a roadside eye test carried out by police after hitting Morgan, which established that he was only able to read a number plate 7 metres (23ft) away.

All drivers should be able to read registration plates from at least 20m (66ft) away.

Less than two years before the incident, in March 2019, his reading ability had been described as “very poor” due to bilateral cataracts, the BBC reports.

In November 2019 he then renewed his license because he believed regular injections had improved his eyesight.

But he failed to declare his medical conditions to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The court also heard that the injections were only intended to stabilise his eyesight, instead of improving it.

In a victim impact statement, Beer’s son, Gareth, said he was “not convinced I will ever fully recover” from his father’s death.

Beer had voluntarily given up his own licence due to poor eyesight and health despite the impact on his independence. His son said: “That was my father. He would do the right thing regardless of the impact that this would cause.”

In her victim impact statement, Mr Morgan’s widow, Hazel, said they had been happily married for 58 years.

She said: “They were 58 happy years. I still cannot believe he won’t be coming home to me.”

Judge Richard Williams said the defendant knew his eyesight was not good enough to drive.

“It must have been obvious to you,” he said.

Judge Williams said he believed Beer had not mentioned his medical treatment to the DVLA in order to care for his late wife who had dementia.

As well as sentencing him to 28 months in prison he disqualified Beer, who turns 97 next month, from driving for six years and two months.

Beer’s barrister, Malcolm Galloway, said that the 96-year-old is “loved by his family and friends” adding that his “only concern has been for the family of the deceased and his own family.”