A motorist with poor eyesight who killed a pedestrian while not wearing glasses walked free from court on Wednesday.
A judge said Mohammed Rashid, who ploughed into journalist Laurence Gunn on a pedestrian crossing, had not done anything illegal by failing to wear his glasses.
The former law student is so short-sighted he could only read a registration plate seven feet away when police tested him.
But he received just 140 hours of community service for hitting Mr Gunn with his Ford Focus in March last year.
Mr Gunn, 32, was hurled into the air as he crossed the road with a friend. He died of his injuries the following day.
Rashid, 23, admitted to police that he had not worn his glasses for more than a year and didn’t know where they were.
However, sentencing him at Blackfriars Crown Court, Judge Aidan Marron QC said that while Rashid should have been more “prudent”, he had not broken the law by not wearing them.
He called the case “an unmitigated tragedy”, adding: “I’m afraid you were the cause of the death. You were driving at a reasonable speed and the evidence suggests there was nothing unusual on the road surface.
“I suggest we will never know why you did not see the victim. It would have been desirable and prudent to wear specs. But there is nothing unlawful about that.”
Rashid denied causing death by dangerous driving at his trial in October, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Judge Marron added: “You have made it perfectly clear from the outset that you are remorseful.
“The only possible aggravating factor is the specs, and in evidence we heard they were not a legal requirement.”
He sentenced Rashid to 140 hours’ unpaid work, a 12-month driving ban and eight points on his licence. He also ordered him to pay £500 in costs.
His barrister, Jacqueline Vallejo, told the court Rashid was deeply affected by the incident.
She said in mitigation: “Mr Rashid is not the same man as before, and for all intents and purposes he is a good lad.
“Mr Rashid has left the University of East London in his second year, where he was studying law.
“The incident freaked him out and he is now working full time at Sainsbury’s, but wants to start university again in September. But there is no longer any hope of pursuing a career in law.”
The court heard Rashid had met his victim’s father.
Miss Vallejo said: “Mr Gunn’s father asked to meet with my client and they spoke for half an hour, and Mr Gunn bears no grudges. He is a dignified but aggrieved man.”
Rashid was ordered to have 12 more meetings with Mr Gunn’s family as part of a restorative justice programme.
Mr Gunn, who lived in Maida Vale in north-west London, and his friend Marsha Peterson had visited two pubs in Hampstead, North London, and walked their dogs on Hampstead Heath on the day of the incident.
They were on East Heath Road at 7pm when Rashid hit Mr Gunn as he and his dog Misty were using the crossing.
Rashid was not over the speed limit and had not been drinking. While it was dark, the road was brightly lit, with a well-marked pedestrian crossing. - Daily Mail