April 17 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A mother from Ipswich whose son was run over and killed in London has said the pain of his death has been made “a million times worse” by the sentence imposed on the driver.
Journalist Laurence Gunn, 32, was walking his dog along a pedestrian crossing with a friend in March 2012 when he was hit by motorist Mohammed Rashid who was not wearing his glasses.
Mr Gunn, originally from Essex but who lived in Maida Vale at the time, died at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington the day after the crash.
Hours of brain surgery couldn’t save him and his family made the agonising decision to switch off his life support machine. His body, they said, had been “shattered” by the collision.
Rashid, 23, of Kensal Rise in north London, was unable to read a registration plate until he was about 7ft away from it, according to police who attended the crash scene.
Rashid was required to wear glasses while driving and was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
However, four days into a trial last October the more serious charge was dropped and Rashid pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
The court was told that he was not speeding, but had made no effort to slow down.
At Blackfriars Crown Court on Wednesday he received community service, eight penalty points and a year’s driving ban for causing Mr Gunn’s death. He was also ordered to pay £500 for court costs.
Members of Mr Gunn’s family have described the sentence as “appalling”.
Now his mother, Vanessa Game, is campaigning for a change in the law which would mean motorists have to undergo regular eye tests.
Speaking through tears at her home in Medway Road, Ipswich, she said: “There are no words that can explain how we feel and what this has done to us, and then to be slapped in the face again by the legal system.
“There’s a massive hole in our lives in the family that will never be filled. Laurence’s life, his future, was cut short.
“Since it happened I haven’t been able to work. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to leave the house, it’s had such a devastating effect on us, I couldn’t even answer the phone.
“Our lives have been shattered. Our lives have gone.”
Mr Gunn’s sister Rebecca, 26, quit her job in Tower Hamlets as a Youth Participation Officer and dropped out of her social work course at Middlesex University following the crash and the ordeal of the trial.
She has now left London and moved to Wales. “It just got to a point where I had to run away, I just had to get away from everything,” she said.
“I just kept thinking I saw him everywhere. He was all I had in London; he was my family in London. I had nobody, I had nobody there.”
Mrs Game, her husband Terry, and Rebecca now plan to campaign for reform of motoring laws that would compel motorists to have an eye test every 12 months.
Working with the charity Brake and other victims of road crashes they also hope to introduce safety measures which would see more speed bumps placed at pedestrian crossings and those who immigrate to Britain required to apply for a British driving licence immediately.
“We’ve got to be Laurence’s voice and stand up now and get things changed, because it’s happening every day,” said Vanessa.
Mr Gunn worked for Incisive Media but had been planning to move to the USA to earn more money so that he could buy a house.
Described by his sister as “excruciatingly talented”, he spoke French and German fluently and was a session bassist, recording tracks for Kylie Minogue and The Streets. He was also a fitness enthusiast who wrote a healthy living blog.
“He loved socialising, he loved people,” said Rebecca. “He was the life and soul of the party, he had such a cheeky side to him that I don’t think Mum saw that often.”