A taxi driver who struck a 78-year-old pedestrian leaving him with ‘life-altering’ injuries has walked free from court with a £150 fine.
John McLean had left the Grey Horse pub on Whalley Road in Accrington and was crossing the road when he was struck by a car driven by taxi driver Zafar Iqbal, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Adam Lodge said Mr McLean suffered a ‘serious head injury’ and was left in a coma for nearly three weeks.
His family said prior to the collision Mr McLean was a ‘fierce and independent individual’ who is now ‘not a shadow of his former self’.
Mr Lodge said Iqbal, 49, was originally charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving following the incident on May 4 last year.
However, the Crown Prosecution Service accepted Iqbal’s lesser plea of driving without due care and attention following an ‘extensive review of the evidence’.
Father-of-four Iqbal, of Birtwistle Street, Accrington, was fined £150, ordered to pay £100 costs and given five points on his licence.
The court heard the collision happened at around 11.50pm when Mr McLean was crossing the road.
Mr Lodge said the pensioner crossed the first carriageway and then ‘for reasons which are unclear speeds up, running into the second carriageway’ before being struck by Iqbal’s Vauxhall Vectra.
The prosecutor said: “Unfortunately as a result of this collision Mr McLean suffered a serious injury to his head which has had life-altering affects upon him.
“The Crown say the defendant’s driving fell below the standard expected of a competent driver in that he failed to properly anticipate the actions of Mr McLean as he stepped into the road.
“The Crown say that the defendant had ample time to consider Mr McLean’s potential actions and could’ve taken steps in order to reduce the speed of the collision and perhaps reduce the severity of the injuries.”
The court heard how an accident investigations officer determined that Iqbal was travelling below the 30mph speed limit before the collision.
The anti-lock braking system on Iqbal’s Vauxhall Vectra was found to be ‘defective’, however the investigations officer said it ‘would not have prevented the collision’ had it been working properly.
Mr McLean was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital and later to Royal Preston Hospital and was in a coma for nearly three weeks.
He was diagnosed with a bleed on the brain and was initially left ‘unable to communicate verbally and didn’t know where he was’, the court heard.
Mr Lodge said Mr McLean was eventually discharged from hospital ‘due to his behaviour becoming violent, attributable to his brain injury’ and that he was moved to a rehabilitation centre.
The court heard how there was ‘some improvement in terms of [Mr McLean’s] ability to communicate and move’, however his family described him as ‘not being a shadow of his former self’.
In a victim impact statement they said Mr McLean was left ‘very confused over where he was’ and that his ‘recognition of family members was poor’. Despite his condition improving over the next 10 weeks he ‘still acted like a child and had to be led and guided in simple tasks’.
Mr Lodge said: “Prior to the collision [Mr McLean] was described as a fierce and independent individual who would be mortified at the extent of his own condition.”
When interviewed by police, Iqbal denied driving too fast and said he ‘believed Mr McLean was going to pause to allow him to pass’. Iqbal told officers that instead Mr McLean ‘speeded up at the last moment giving him insufficient time to react in order to avoid a collision’.
Defence barrister Alexander Rostron said Zafar Iqbal had been a taxi driver for 10 years and has shown ‘real regret and remorse’.
The court heard that Iqbal had a ‘clean driving licence’ and a ‘very good driving history’.
Mr Rostron said: “This is an extremely unfortunate event. He of course accepts that his driving on this one occasion fell below the standard expected. He should have slowed when the saw the gentleman in the road. He didn’t and thought (McLean) was letting him pass.
“There is real regret and remorse on his part and he accepts culpability.”
Judge Sara Dodd said it was ‘entirely appropriate’ for Iqbal to plead guilty to the lesser charge of driving without due care and attention. Sentencing, she said: “It’s quite clear that you find this whole situation very distressing. Sadly your lack of anticipation of what might happen led to this collision.
“The effects as you know have been life-changing for the gentleman who was knocked over and indeed for his family whose life must have been very difficult for the last 18 months.”