Driver JAILED after 'reversing at speed' into retired doctor

Leigh Kuehnel <i>(Image: TVP)</i>
Leigh Kuehnel (Image: TVP)

A DRIVER has been jailed for 'reversing at speed' into a retired academic in North Oxford, causing her heart to stop beating.

Leigh Kuehnel, of Elizabeth Avenue, Newbury was jailed for two years and two months following a hearing at Oxford Crown Court on Friday (May 24).

On August 4, 2022, the 47-year-old drove a Ford Connect van towards Oxford and missed his turning into Osberton Road.

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Instead of finding a safe place to turn around, Kuehnel reversed back up a main road and collided with the retired academic Dr Pike on Woodstock Road.

Dr Pike was crossing the road behind Kuehnel when she was struck, requiring resuscitation before being rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington.

She spent four months in the Intensive Care Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

She also suffered from rib fractures, both her lungs were punctured, her skull was broken and she suffered from a liver injury.

Oxford Mail:
Oxford Mail:

The driver denied the offence and told officers that he had checked his wing mirrors and had ‘seen nothing of Dr Pike’ so started his manoeuvre.

He added that his van has a reversing camera but it needed to be manually turned on, which he claimed he had not.

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Kuehnel said that the van also has parking sensors but stated they didn’t sound before hitting Dr Pike.

Police arranged an inspection of the vehicle and stated the camera was working and should have been automatic as well as confirming the parking sensors were working.

However, Kuehnel was found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving by majority jury verdict following a three-day trial on April 24.

Oxford Mail: Leigh Kuehnel outside Oxford Crown Court
Oxford Mail: Leigh Kuehnel outside Oxford Crown Court

He had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of driving a motor vehicle with a proportion of a specified controlled drug over the specified limit, namely cocaine and benzoylecgonine.

Senior investigating officer, Sergeant Dominic Mahon of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: “Leigh Kuehnel chose to drive that evening, knowing he had consumed cocaine and alcohol. When he missed his turning, he chose to reverse even though he couldn’t see behind him.

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“His dangerous choices almost cost a woman her life, and she will sadly never fully recover from the terrible injuries he caused her.

“Drink and drug driving ruins lives, and it could cost you your freedom or even your life.

"It’s not worth the risk.”

Kuehnel was also banned from driving for three years and four months and was ordered to take an extended driving test before he can apply for his licence back.