A 90-year-old retired doctor with failing eyesight and confusion who ploughed into a car head-on and killed a man while driving on the wrong side of a dual carriageway has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.
Dr Turner Waddell took a wrong turn on the A30 in the dark between Hook and Basingstoke in Hampshire and ended up travelling south on the northbound carriageway.
Terrified drivers told police they flashed their lights and hit their horns to try and warn Waddell as he drove his Volvo at 60mph in the wrong fast lane on March 11 last year. After about a mile, Waddell smashed into Neil Colquhoun's Vauxhall Vectra as he drove from his work as a temp back home to Hook along the A30.
Winchester Crown Court was told Mr Colquhoun had just overtaken a car in the fast lane along with another car in front of him and that vehicle had just got back into the slow lane when Waddell's Volvo came around a bend and the collision occurred. Mr Colquhoun's car then hit another car and burst into flames. He was killed by the collision and not the flames, the court heard.
Waddell and his wife, who were on their way to the theatre in Basingstoke from their then home in Andover Down, Hampshire, were also seriously injured and were dragged from their smoking car by other motorists, who bravely ignored the risks.
Waddell, who had a clean driving licence, and now lives in Porthcawl, near Bridgend, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing.
Judge Keith Cutler suspended the sentence for two years and disqualified Waddell from driving for life. He said that Waddell's eyesight was very worrying and added that if there was a message to come out the tragedy it was that doctors and relatives "look very, very carefully whether elderly people can drive."
Investigating officer Sergeant Rob Heard, from Hampshire Police, said after the case: "Our thoughts are with Neil's family at this time. He was travelling home to Hook, having spent time with friends after work, when the collision happened.
"Neil was treated at the scene by ambulance crews but sadly died as a result of his injuries. We conducted a thorough investigation and our inquiries found he had no way of avoiding the collision and was in no way to blame.
"As the law stands, there is currently no requirement for people to re-take their driving test or to have their licence reviewed by virtue of their age alone. I would always encourage drivers of whatever age, however, to ensure that they are medically fit enough to drive on the road safely."