Pensioner jailed for killing three-year-old girl on pedestrian crossing

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A Sutton Coldfield pensioner has been sentenced to four years in prison after knocking down and killing a three-year-old girl as she walked over a pedestrian crossing last summer.

John Place, aged 72, was handed the sentence at Birmingham Crown Court today (March 20) after he hit Poppy-Arabella Rose Clarke with his Volkswagen Passat as she pushed her bike across Chester Road in Boldmere on 6 July. 

The traffic lights were on red at the time and the green man was flashing for pedestrians. Poppy was treated by paramedics at the scene but tragically died later in hospital. 

Place’s car also collided with Poppy-Arabella’s mother Rachel Clarke, leaving her with serious injuries. She had been walking next to her daughter as she crossed the road.

Place, from Bakers Lane, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving at a hearing on March 3. 

A police investigation found that he had been told just weeks before that his vision was no longer good enough for him to drive, even with his glasses on. When he hit Poppy-Arabella and Rachel Clarke he was not wearing glasses and told officers he had not seen the red light or the crossing itself. 

Detective Sergeant Paul Hughes, from the regional Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This is an absolutely tragic case and Poppy-Arabella’s parents continue to suffer enormously from their loss. Our thoughts remain with them.

“Place should not have been driving that day as quite simply his vision was severely impaired. The consequences of his decision to get behind the wheel despite this have been catastrophic. 

“I hope that this case sends out a message to all drivers that you have a personal responsibility to heed medical advice and to ensure you are fit to get behind the wheel.”
 
Place was also disqualified from driving for five years from the date of his release from prison.

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