Seven points for retired teacher whose careless driving killed horse

The crash happened in Wetherden Picture: ARCHANT

The crash happened in Wetherden Picture: ARCHANT

A retired teacher has been handed seven penalty points after his careless driving killed a prize-winning horse being ridden along a Suffolk road.

Mervyn Evans appeared at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court last Friday to admit driving without due care and attention in Wetherden, near Stowmarket.

Prosecutor Colette Harper said the crash happened at 8.25am on January 4, when the 63-year-old’s Mazda MX-5 collided with one of two horses being ridden in single file on Elmswell Road.

Mrs Harper said both riders were experienced and wearing high visibility jackets.

She said the leading rider had shouted a warning after hearing “loud acceleration” from behind.

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The other rider, who managed to steer her gelding onto the footpath but was unable to manoeuvre its hind legs, suffered hip, neck and back pain as a result of the crash.

In a statement read to the court, the rider, a student veterinary physiotherapist, called the horse an “irreplaceable” show-winner, adding: “I loved him like my own.

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“It feels like my best friend has been murdered.

“I know I will never have a horse as genuine and successful.”

Jeremy Sirrell, mitigating, called any suggestion Evans was speeding “completely untrue”.

He argued Evans had been shifting down gears and slowing down before reaching home in adjacent Park Road.

“This wasn’t a case of him seeing the horse at the last minute and failing to avoid it,” he added.

“The very low sun appeared from behind a building and blinded him. In that instant, the horse was struck.

“He accepts entirely that the result of this instantaneous failure was the loss of this horse. It was not the result of some devil-may-care action.

“What happened on this day was a freak accident.”

Mr Sirrell said Evans had just one endorsement on his licence in 50 years and was a volunteer driver for two local organisations.

Presiding magistrate, Michael Sweeting told Evans: “The fact a horse was killed was, to put it mildly, a disaster. But, in dealing with this, we have to make an assessment of the level at which you driving fell below the acceptable standard.”

The bench decided the offence had caused greater harm, but had not fallen squarely into a category for higher or lower culpability.

Evans was handed seven penalty points and a £430 fine.

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