Driver, 82, with failing eyesight jailed for six months for killing cyclist

The family of a cyclist killed by an 82-year-old driver have called on elderly motorists to check their eyesight to prevent other families suffering the “pain and devastation” they have endured.

Peter Gardner, of Bloswood Lane, Whitchurch, Hampshire, was driving a silver Vauxhall Vectra when he collided with cyclist Jim Tassell from behind and knocked him off his bike.

The incident happened on the B3400 between Andover Down and Hurstbourne Priors on July 23, 2021.

Cyclist Jim Tassell (Family handout/Hampshire Constabulary/PA)
Cyclist Jim Tassell (Family handout/Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Mr Tassell, 70, from Andover, was taken by air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital where he died five days later.

Gardner was jailed for six months at Salisbury Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: “The court heard Gardner was only able to read a registration plate at three metres away, as opposed to the required 20 metres.

“In his sentencing remarks, the judge said Gardner must have known his eyesight was failing.”

Following the sentencing, the Tassell family said in a statement: “We are pleased the judge imposed a custodial sentence as this gives us a small piece of justice.

“We hope this sentence acts as a warning to any elderly driver with poor eyesight to ensure they are medically and legally fit to drive.

“We urge anyone who is concerned about an elderly driver to act so
other families do not have to go through the pain and devastation that was inflicted upon us.”

Sergeant Spencer Wragg, of the Roads Policing Unit, said: “This was a tragic and completely avoidable death.

“If Peter Gardner had made sure he was safe to drive then this collision would not have happened, saving the Tassell family the pain and turmoil they have been through.

“All drivers, no matter their age, have a responsibility to ensure they are fit and healthy. By getting behind the wheel with poor eyesight, you are putting your own life and the lives of other innocent road users at risk.”