Cab driver, 72, who killed man in front of 2 grandkids during crash spared jail

News

A taxi driver has been spared jail after he killed a man in front of his two grandchildren in a “momentary lapse of judgement.”

Oritseweyinmi Pessu had been ferrying passengers for years when his careless driving threw grandad Narendra Dang from the back seat of the Mercedes, causing him to die instantly.

The 66-year-old victim was described as an “outstanding person” who had spent the day playing with his grandchildren before the crash, the court heard.

On December 2 last year, the 72-year-old cabbie was driving three passengers – Mr Dang and his grandchildren – on Henley Road, Reading, Berkshire, when he attempted to overtake a Thames Travel bus.

Prosecuting, Christopher Hewertson, said: “Very sadly, it fell to a momentary lapse of judgement and a lack of spatial awareness at that time.

“The Mercedes saloon was intent on overtaking but there was insufficient time. It was in the twilight hours and the children were in the back of the car.”

Having admitted causing death by careless and inconsiderate driving, Pessu was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Monday.

Sentencing him, Judge Paul Dugdale called the case “tragic.”

He said: “It may be that he simply got the distance wrong, he was not in a rush; he was not speeding; he was not distracted and he was not on the phone, he just made an error in judgement.

“He was driving at 20mph when he drove into the back of the bus. Mr Dang was in the back seat and he was propelled forward into the rear of the passenger seat and instantly caused a fatal injury to his head.”

Christopher Martin, defending, said: “Mr Pessu is a family man, a man who has made certain sacrifices so that he can provide for his family – setting up his own cleaning business with his science degree.

“He has and continues to demonstrate the most genuine remorse for the tragedy. While it is absolutely accepted that it is the family of Mr Dang that suffered the most as a consequence, it is right to say that Mr Pessu has genuinely suffered some psychological harm also.

“He will now see out the remainder of his days with the consequences of his actions.”

Judge Dugdale said Mr Dang had been in the taxi with his two grandchildren, aged five and seven, whom he had been taking care of to give his son some free time.

“It is clear from everything I have read that time spent with their grandfather was something his two grandchildren valued. This was just an ordinary day and everybody was going about their ordinary life.

“He had said to his wife that he would be home for tea, and utterly tragically he was not home for tea. Utterly tragically, he died in a crash which occurred when Mr Pessu drove his Mercedes into the back of a bus.”

The judge continued noting the bus was on its ordinary route and a number of other cars were seen on CCTV passing it without issue before the crash.

“For some reason, Mr Pessu – a very experienced driver with a clean driving licence – made an error of judgement when he was overtaking a stationary bus. There is some evidence that he may have pulled in at the last minute.

“He was driving at 20mph when he drove into the back of the bus. Mr Dang was in the back seat and he was propelled forward into the rear of the passenger seat and instantly caused a fatal injury to his head.”

The judge labelled the victim’s son’s statement read to the court about the loss of his “fit and healthy” dad as “very moving.”

“It speaks of the loss that many of us face when one is deeply loved and is suddenly taken from you. It is just that, not something that is expected or thought through.”

Tragically, the victim’s wife of 38 years died a month ago following her grief.

In a statement to the court, the devastated son added a quote from his father which read: “Life is a ephemeral, do not plan too much into the future.”

The judge continued: “Everything I have read shows what an exemplary person he was. An asset to his family by his loved he was, what an asset he was to the community, and what a great loss his passing has had.

“I have also read many references for Mr Pessu. He too is a man who worked hard all of his life as a cleaner and a driver leading a life of good character.

Addressing Pessu, the judge said “one momentary act of inattention” while driving led to the crash.

“Two men who were in similar stages of their lives, similar ages and similar family commitments and were in the car at the same time. One of them stands in the dock and one is tragically no longer with us.”

Pessu, of Wembley, north London, was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 120 hours of unpaid work, disqualified from driving for 18 months and he will be subject to an extended driving qualification.