Visually impaired driver from Potters Bar jailed after knocking down cyclist

First published in News by

A MOTORIST whose sight was so bad he should not have been driving has been jailed for eight months after ploughing into the back of a cyclist.

Michael Elliott, 64, of Willow Way, Potters Bar, left the scene of the accident after the collision with cyclist Patrice Gougam on the A1000 Barnet Road near the junction with Wagon Road, at 7.15pm on November 12 last year.

Rather than pulling over, Elliott continued to his camera club, where he spent two hours, before stopping at the scene on the way home.

Mr Gougam, a keen cyclist and head coach at Enfield Chase Tennis Club, was out on his bike to meet members of the cycling club, but due to the wet weather no one else turned up.

It was while cycling back to his Barnet home that Mr Gougam was struck by Elliott’s red Land Rover.

At St Albans Crown Court on Friday, Mr Gougam was described as “very popular” at the tennis and cycling club.

In part of a statement read to the court, Mr Gougam’s wife Virginia said the incident meant her life was “falling apart” and was experiencing financial difficulties as her husband was unable to work and in need of constant care.

Retired Elliott should not have even been on the road that night as he had been receiving treatment for glaucoma and cataracts.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving for driving with a medical condition, as well as leaving the scene of an accident and failing to notify the DVLA of his eyesight problem.

Gavin Erwin, defending, said single Elliott was maintaining the few social contacts he had by driving to the camera club that night.

Despite the contents of a pre-sentence report indicating otherwise, he was remorseful, the court heard.

Initially Elliott thought he had hit the curb, but decided to check the scene of the incident on the way home and when he saw the police, handed himself in.

Mr Erwin said: “He was in a panic. At first he thought he had clipped the curb. Then he realised he had connected with a human being.”

Recorder Philip Brook-Smith QC jailed Elliott for eight months, of which he will serve half in prison.

He was banned from driving for three years and had nine points put on his licence.

Mr Brook-Smith said there were three “aggravating factors” to the offence; driving knowing he had poor eyesight, failing to stop and the serious injuries Mr Gougam sustained.

He said: “One can particularly imagine the catastrophic effect, emotional and financial, on Mr Gougam’s family.

“I accept you do feel remorse for the injuries you caused and accept it will stay with you for the rest of your life, the same as it will for Mr Gougam’s family.

“I am satisfied this is so serious neither a fine or community penalty can be justified.”

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