A driver who caused the death of a well-known Peterborough launderette owner was picking up a biscuit from the floor of the car at the time of the collision.
Shaun Michael Lymer was driving an Audi which struck 78-year-old Richard Thomas on a pedestrian crossing on the A52 Wainfleet Road in Skegness.
Boston Magistrates’ Court was told today (Wednesday) that it was a “momentary inattention” of driving which had catastrophic effects.
Lymer, 29, was given a 18-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to do 120 hours’ unpaid work. He was disqualified from driving for two years and told to pay £200 in costs and victim surcharge.
The court heard that a young child was in the front passenger seat of the car and Lymer was picking up a biscuit which the youngster had dropped.
Mr Thomas, known as Dick, died in hospital the day after the incident on August 15 last year.
Lymer, of Morris Gardens, Skegness, was tearful as he appeared before the court to plead guilty to three charges – causing death by careless driving, causing death by driving a vehicle while uninsured and possession of cocaine.
The court heard that the incident had had a considerable impact on the defendant, who has not been able to face driving for several months, had been prescribed anti-depressant medication and has seen his relationship collapse.
He is also currently unfit to work because of his emotional state.
In mitigation, Helen Coney said: “It’s the case of a momentary inattention to his driving.”
She said it was his father’s car and the insurance offence came about because Lymer had comprehensive cover for a different vehicle, which he wrongly assumed would also cover him in the Audi.
“A common misconception by people,” added Miss Coney, who said immediate custody would have a huge impact on not just Lymer but other people too.
District judge Peter Veits told Lymer: “What I can’t do is turn the clock back to before the 15th of August last year. Sadly, at the start of that day Richard Thomas was alive and well and was walking around; now he no longer is thanks to your presence on the road.”
He added: “There’s no allegation that you were driving dangerously, recklessly or driving too fast. What you did was allowed yourself to be distracted. That’s surely a lesson as to why young children should not be in the front of a vehicle. If the biscuit had been dropped in the back of the car you would have been none the wiser and you wouldn’t have been distracted.
“It’s very easy when we’re drive not to pay full attention to what’s going on and to realise what we’re driving is a killing machine.”
Judge Veits said it was important that Lymer dealt with the issue in his head as there was no doubt in the judge’s mind that the incident would have caused “severe psychological damage”.
There was no separate penalty for the cocaine offence.