Driver jailed after hit-and-run death

By Rowan EntwistleTHE granddaughter of a war veteran who died after a hit-and-run accident said last night she hoped the Suffolk driver's 15-month prison sentence would stop others trying to escape responsibility for their actions.

By Rowan Entwistle

THE granddaughter of a war veteran who died after a hit-and-run accident said last night she hoped the Suffolk driver's 15-month prison sentence would stop others trying to escape responsibility for their actions.

Leonard Moakes, 84, was struck as he crossed the road just yards from his home in Hoveton, near Wroxham, on November 11.

He suffered head, chest and pelvis injuries, but never regained consciousness at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.


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The driver of the car, Brett Stephenson, 37, of Brights Farm, Bramfield, near Halesworth, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court yesterday to 15 months in prison.

Despite the fact he was alleged to have drunk seven shots of whisky before the accident, Stephenson was not prosecuted for drink-driving because he did not stop and was not breathalysed.

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After driving away from the scene, Stephenson - who has previous convictions for assault and driving with excess alcohol - took measures to “cover-up” his involvement in the accident.

His girlfriend ordered a new windscreen for the car and he bought tools to repair the damage, but his efforts to evade justice were in vain.

Sentencing Stephenson, Judge Simon Jacobs made it clear to him the 15-month spell behind bars was not to compensate for the death of Mr Moakes, but related only to his guilty pleas of perverting the course of justice, careless driving without due care and attention and driving without insurance.

“I have to deal with you for three offences. The most serious offence is one of perverting the course of justice. It is not reparation for the loss of a life,” the judge said.

He added it was quite clear Stephenson, an assistant pub manager, had been aware of the seriousness of what he had done and by leaving the scene he must have thought he was “escaping prison”.

Stephenson, a father-of-two, was also disqualified from driving for three years and received 16 penalty points on his licence.

Speaking after the case, Mr Moakes's granddaughter, Alison Hindley, said she was not disappointed the sentence had not been longer.

“He has done what he has done. I still feel quite angry, but not as angry as I did. I could see his face and he did look quite remorseful,” she added.

“Whatever sentence he got is not going to bring my granddad back. He didn't deserve to go the way he did. I hope this acts as a deterrent to stop similar accidents happening in the future.”

Pc Phil Henley, a family liaison officer for Norfolk police, reiterated her comments, saying he hoped the sentence would make people think.

He added a charge of dangerous driving had not been pursued as there was not been any evidence that Stephenson had been driving dangerously.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said on the day of the accident Stephenson had been with his two children.

He had also been in a pub and drunk seven shots of whisky before driving along Horning Road West in Hoveton with his girlfriend in her car.

It was dark and he was driving at about 50mph in a 30mph zone when he struck Mr Moakes, a great-grandfather, as he crossed the road.

Stephenson drove away, stopping only briefly to see the damage he had caused, before heading back to Suffolk.

Mr Farmer said Stephenson had taken measures to “cover up” his involvement in the accident.

His girlfriend ordered a new windscreen for the car and he bought a body repair kit so he could mend the damaged vehicle.

When questioned by police, Mr Farmer said Stephenson persistently lied about how much alcohol he had drunk, claiming to have only had half-a-pint of lager.

He was also concerned about having no insurance, about his girlfriend and about going to prison.

“He knew he was in serious trouble, he knew at the time he was uninsured and he might well have known he was over the limit,” said Mr Farmer.

“Had he stopped when he should have done the issue of whether he was over the limit or not would have been resolved.”

Stephenson admitted perverting the course of justice by arranging for a replacement windscreen and obtaining a body repair kit with the intention of repairing collision damage.

He also admitted driving without due care and attention and driving without insurance.

Stephenson had denied causing death by dangerous driving, driving dangerously and causing danger to other road users and they were left on his file.

Michael Clare, mitigating, said the cover-up had not resulted in the blame being placed on anyone else and Stephenson should be given credit for his early guilty plea.

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