A delivery driver killed a grandad on a pedestrian crossing after going through red traffic lights.

Edward Parkinson struck 84-year-old John Hart with a wing mirror of his blue Iveco van in Southport.

Mr Hart, who died from a serious head injury, was described as a "wonderful" man by his grieving family.

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A judge today said if Parkinson had been paying proper attention to the road, his victim would still be alive.

But the 64-year-old, of "positive good character", was spared jail after Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, said: "I've no doubt you will have to live with that for the rest of your life."

Liverpool Crown Court heard Parkinson, who admitted causing death by careless driving, had been working overnight for Menzies Distribution on December 11, 2019.

He made his last delivery to Morrisons in Southport before heading north along Lord Street, intending to return to a depot in Preston, at 8.40am.

Parkinson was doing 24mph in the 30mph zone, along a wide single lane, near Beales Department Store.

Jamie Baxter, prosecuting, said as he approached a pelican crossing, an Arriva bus ahead of him, which had just passed a bus stop, slowed down.

Mr Baxter said the light changed from amber to red and the bus "slowed to a stop".

Edward Parkinson, 64, admitted causing death by careless driving
Edward Parkinson, 64, admitted causing death by careless driving

The victim, whose pedestrian light was on green, started to cross the road from left to right.

Mr Baxter said: "The traffic signals had been displaying red for approximately six seconds by the time the fatal collision occurred."

Sarah Byron, who was travelling behind Parkinson, watched his van overtake the bus and accelerate.

Mr Baxter said: "In her words she put her hands on her mouth in shock, because she could see he was going to go through a red light."

He said Mr Hart was initially obscured by the bus and by the time Parkinson saw him "it was simply too late".

His left wing mirror hit Mr Hart, who was immediately rendered unconscious and later died in hospital.

Parkinson exited his van and walked back to where people were trying to help the victim, then waited for police.

When interviewed in March 2020, he accepted responsibility and said he'd believed the lights were on green.

Judge Flewitt said statements from Mr Hart's wife and daughter were "very moving".

Mr Baxter said they were "hard to read" and spoke of a "beloved father, grandfather and husband who will be greatly missed".

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Parkinson, of Ormskirk Road, Wigan, had no previous convictions and a clean driving record.

Mr Baxter said sentencing guidelines suggested a starting point of 36 weeks - around eight months - in prison.

Andrew Nuttall, defending, said his client always accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

He said the death had seriously affected Parkinson's mental health, but "his thoughts remain focused on the family of the deceased".

Mr Nuttall added: "It is the fact that he is responsible for a death that has caused him so much pain.

"As he repeatedly said, he can only begin to imagine what it would be like if it had happened to his family."

The court heard Edward Parkinson has since lost his job and battled mental health problems
The court heard Edward Parkinson has since lost his job and battled mental health problems

He said Parkinson had been "a decent hardworking man all his life" and was trying to come to terms with how he didn't see the red lights.

Mr Nuttall said his client accepted he must have been distracted by the bus.

He added: "It's pretty clear he's having to live with that every hour of every day.

"He surrendered his licence straight away. He has absolutely no desire to get behind the wheel again."

Parkinson has since suffered with anxiety, is on medication and has undergone counselling.

Urging the judge to spare him jail, Mr Nuttall said: "He's going to struggle with this forever."

Judge Flewitt told Parkinson: "There was no reason for you not to have seen that red light. It would have been clearly visible if you had looked up."

The judge said he suspected Parkinson was distracted by the bus and his overtaking manoeuvre, but he should have been alerted by the fact the bus had stopped not at a bus stop.

He said the driver failed to make sure it was safe to overtake, tried to do it at a pedestrian crossing, and the lights were on red for six seconds.

Judge Flewitt said: "This was not a momentary loss of attention. This was a careless and avoidable manoeuvre and if you had been paying proper attention, Mr Hart would still be alive."

Edward Parkinson was hugged by a female supporter outside court
Edward Parkinson was hugged by a female supporter outside court

The judge said: "It's clear John Hart was a remarkable man who had achieved a great deal in his life. He lived a very full life and he had much to look forward to."

Judge Flewitt added: "His daughter describes him in these terms: 'He was the most wonderful father anyone could ever ask for and was a constant source of comfort, love and affection, wisdom and advice.

"I've no doubt the family will continue to suffer his loss for a very long time to come."

However, he said Parkinson had "substantial mitigation" and there had been an "inexcusable" two-year delay in the case coming to court.

Judge Flewitt said Parkinson lost his job because he was no longer fit to work due to his mental health problems and his remorse was sincere and genuine.

Pictured is Liverpool Crown Court

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He said whatever sentence he passed, "some people will regard it as being inadequate to reflect the loss of life".

Judge Flewitt said: "I'm conscious whatever sentence I impose will not reduce the loss and the pain of those close to Mr Hart."

The judge gave Parkinson 10 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, with a 20-day rehabilitation course, 180 hours of unpaid work and a 12-month road ban, with an extended retest before he can drive again.

Judge Flewitt said: "I doubt, having read the victim personal statements, that a short sentence of imprisonment for you would bring any comfort to Mr Hart's family.

"They are decent people and I rather suspect they would not want to see a further life broken and damaged by what happened two years ago."

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