A driver convicted of causing the death of an elderly pedestrian outside a Douglas shop walked free from court last Wednesday, but he will carry the burden of remorse for the rest of his life, according to his solicitor.
David Sked, 25, “will carry it with him” always, his lawyer told Lanark Sheriff Court.
Sked, of Manse View Terrace, Douglas, was found guilty in July of causing the death of 88-year-old John Sykes by careless driving.
The accident happened on July 28, 2014, outside a shop in Ayr Road.
Sked came out of the shop and got into his car, but as he reversed to leave, he hit Mr Sykes, who was crossing the road at the time and was standing behind his car’s parking place.
The impact was slight – being described by one witness viewing CCTV in court as the car having just touched Mr Sykes – but it was enough to knock him down. He sustained a broken hip and died after surgery.
Sheriff Derek O’Carrol found that Sked had not checked behind him before reversing, but he said that the consequences had been “vastly out of proportion” to Sked’s lack of due care and attention.
Back in court last week, Sheriff O’Carroll said that though the tragic event had inflicted a major loss on the family of Mr Sykes, the degree of fault due to the driving error was quite limited.
Sked had not seen Mr Sykes, but the car had moved very slowly and only a few inches before stopping.
That short movement had had the effect of knocking Mr Sykes down.
After the accident, Sked took the elderly man to hospital himself, rather than waiting for an ambulance, and also phoned his family to inform them of the incident and contacted the police.
“That is to your credit,” said the sheriff.
“You did everything you possibly could in these unfortunate circumstances.”
A post-mortem found that the accident had caused a simple fall, but at 88, Mr Sykes had suffered a broken hip, and after an operation for that, he had required further surgery on his back because of scarring from an op years earlier.
As a result of those operations, his condition had deteriorated, and he died three weeks after the accident.
“It is quite obvious that these are unusual circumstances,” said the sheriff, adding that the court had to take that unusual background into account when passing sentence.
“You live a responsible life,” the sheriff told Sked after consulting a background report.
“The result of this comparatively minor lack of attention to your surroundings has been the tragic loss of life.
“It would not be right. It would not be fair or just, notwithstanding the tragic outcome, to imprison you.”
He imposed a community payback order with 150 hours of unpaid work, ordered Sked to attend a road traffic offenders’ programme and banned him from driving for a year, also requiring him to resit his driving test once that year-long disqualification is up. The ban was backdated, as Sked was disqualified on being found guilty.