‘It is us who are being punished’ – family’s tears after killer driver gets £85 fine

Brian Pattinson with daughter Kelly
Brian Pattinson with daughter Kelly
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A DAUGHTER today slammed “soft sentencing” magistrates after the driver who killed her dad walked free from court.

Brian Pattinson loved his life and loved his family.

The grandfather of four was killed when the car he was driving collided with a VW Bora driven by Michael Bristow.

Bristow had failed to stop behind two other cars, and the impact pushed him into the path of Mr Pattinson who was driving to work in his Peugeot 205.

The 72-year-old suffered a catalogue of horrific injuries and had to be cut free from his car and airlifted to hospital where he died.

Bristow, 35, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention when he appeared before Consett Magistrates’ Court last month – which could result in fines of up to £5,000

But despite magistrates being moved to tears when statements were read out by Mr Pattinson’s family, Bristow was handed a 12-month driving ban, a community order and asked to pay £85 in court costs.

It was a sentence that has equally bewildered and outraged the Pattinson family.

Daughter Kelly, 41, said: “Is that what my dad’s life was worth – £85?

“This is no punishment. It is us, our family, who are being punished.

“When the magistrates said he had to pay just £85 in costs, our brother got up and walked out of the courtroom because he was so disgusted. It was an insult.

“I only wish the magistrates had been there the day I walked into the hospital room and couldn’t recognise my own dad because he was so badly injured.

“If they’d seen his face, all broken and swollen, his hair half shaved, his body crippled by multiple injuries, would they have still given the same sentence?”

Mr Pattinson had worked hard his entire life and was spending his retirement still volunteering at the farm where he had once been employed as a land-dariner.

The father of three, from Durham City, had been driving to work that morning in July last year when the crash happened on the B6302 between Neville’s Cross and Ushaw Moor.

Kelly said: “The heartbreaking thing is that dad was always such a careful driver. He’d driven for 50 years and never had an accident.

“When our victim statements were read out in court, one of the magistrates started crying. Yet they seemed to have given him the lightest sentence they could.

“What they handed down was ridiculous. I read recently about someone in court in Stockport who got fined more than £100 for shooting a squirrel. Yet for dad’s life, this guy had to pay just £85.

“There’s no consistency and they haven’t taken our feelings into consideration at all.”

Bristow, of South View, Ushaw Moor, claimed he had suffered a “momentary lapse of concentration with tragic consequences” after he had been dazzled by the sun.

Kelly, who is now lending her support to stopdangersdrivers.com, believes the courts need to consider the victims more when handing down sentences.

She added: “If they ask for the views of those affected then they should listen to them, and act on them.”