Pensioner knocked down cyclist – while driving without his glasses

The junction of Coaley Lane and Blind Lane near the Beehive Pub at Newbottle.  In this view, Coaley Lane runs across from left to right, across Blind Lane.
The junction of Coaley Lane and Blind Lane near the Beehive Pub at Newbottle. In this view, Coaley Lane runs across from left to right, across Blind Lane.
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A PENSIONER knocked over a cyclist causing him devastating injuries – because he drove without his glasses.

James Newall, 75, said he failed to spot cyclist Kenneth Robson, who had right of way, as he pulled out directly into his path on March 27.

Mr Robson, 47, was cycling along Coaley Lane at Newbottle, on his way from Sunderland to work at Rainton Bridge, when he was hit by Newall’s Renault Megane at the junction with Blind Lane.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Robson was rushed to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he remained for two weeks.

“He suffered seven broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a punctured lung. He had surgery to remove a two-inch section of bone from his shoulder and will need another operation. He has also been left with tilted vision, which may require surgery.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson referred to a letter from great-grandfather Newall’s optician, who tested his eyes in 2007 and again in 2014.

“Quite clearly his eyesight, without the aid of spectacles, is so impaired he shouldn’t be driving without wearing spectacles,” Mr Anderson said. “He doesn’t meet the legal requirements for driving. Mr Robson was a very unfortunate person in terms of the injuries he sustained.

“He doesn’t have a great recollection of the events until he woke up in hospital two days later.”

Mr Anderson said that while Mr Robson is not angry with Newall, a retired HGV driver, he blames him for the crash.

In a victim statement, he added: “I want to make it known that prior to the incident I was in very good health and very active. I played competitive football until I was 40 and was a keen cyclist. It now feels like I may never be fit or able to get on a bike again.”

The accident has also impacted on Mr Robson’s loved ones, as he cannot get out and about and is unable to drive the family car. They also had to cancel a family holiday to Dubai.

“I missed out on my son’s 21st birthday celebration and that has upset me,” he said. “I will never get that special time back.”

Newall, of Market Place in Houghton, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He has no previous convictions, but received three points for speeding in 2011. David Sherwood-Smith, mitigating, said: “Mr Newall now accepts he ought to have been wearing spectacles.

“He said he looked and he couldn’t see anything coming. Clearly there was, and very tragic circumstances followed. The only explanation is that he couldn’t see the cyclist. He has been very upset by the injuries he has caused and if he could turn back the clock, he would.

“Mr Newall was a HGV driver for his entire working life and has held a full licence for 54 years. His licence has been with the DVLA for six months and he has effectively ended his driving career in this way.”

Sentencing Newall to a four-month suspended prison sentence, chairman of the bench Chris Hutchinson said: “The cyclist was in hospital for a considerable time and the injuries suffered were quite severe and substantial. You have admitted that you should have been wearing your spectacles after being told so by your optician. You were told of course to wear spectacles when you were driving.”

Newall was also banned from driving for two years and must sit an extended test if he wants to drive again after that. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge. Any matter of compensation will be dealt with by Newalls insurance company.