28th Jun, 2022

Speeding driver jailed after hitting helpless pensioner in Coventry street

Shaun Reynolds 22nd Mar, 2017 Updated: 22nd Mar, 2017

A SPEEDING driver’s own dash-cam captured the moment he pulled into a right-turn lane – but then carried straight on and killed a pensioner who was running across the road.

Though driver Romans Lasmanis braked as hard as he could when he spotted great-grandfather Leonard Steptoe, he was going too fast to stop in time.

The pensioner suffered fatal injuries and Lasmanis pleaded guilty to causing his death on April 28 last year by dangerous driving.

The 42-year-old of St Austell Way, Coventry, was jailed for two years – of which he will serve 12 months, and was banned from driving for four years.

Prosecutor John O’Higgins said 73-year-old Mr Steptoe had been crossing Sewall Highway just after the traffic lights at the junction with Blackberry Lane, when he was struck by a Vauxhall Zafira driven by Lasmanis.

Mr Lasmanis was late for work as he headed north along Sewall Highway – a 30mph residential road.

The car in front of him slowed to turn left into Blackberry Lane.

Instead of remaining behind that car until it turned, he pulled out into the right-turn lane and accelerated to 45mph as he went straight on across the junction.

That was just as Mr Steptoe began to run from the offside of the road ahead of him.

Lasmanis applied emergency braking, but could not stop in time because of his speed – and his dash-cam captured the moment his car struck Mr Steptoe, which was played in court.

The Zafira was still doing 34mph at the point of impact, but a collision reconstruction expert pointed out if the car had been travelling within the speed limit at the time Lasmanis began braking, it would have stopped in time.

Lasmanis remained at the scene, immediately expressing his shock and deep concern, and made no attempt to delete the evidence of his dash-cam.

When he was interviewed following his arrest, he told officers he had held a licence for 20 years and had been driving in the UK for ten years following his arrival from Latvia.

The court heard that in a statement widower Mr Steptoe’s son Graham said he knew Lasmanis had not set out that day to kill his father, ‘but it was an accident that could have been avoided.’

Amy Jackson, defending, described it as ‘an incredibly tragic case.’

Jailing Lasmanis, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told him through a Latvian interpreter: “In every sense this case is a tragedy.

“Had you been driving within the speed limit and not accelerated when you went through the junction, Leonard Steptoe would be with us today.

“But you did, and you struck him and injured him so severely that he could not survive his injuries.”

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