Man convicted of careless driving that led to death of elderly man in Wigton

84 year old William Hughes (left) died when a van driven by David Barron (right) ran him over in Wigton in July 2019. Credit: Cumbria Police / Craig McGlasson

A man has been convicted of causing the death of an elderly pedestrian by careless driving.

David Barron, 57, a self-employed van driver had run over 84 year old William Hughes while reversing the wrong way along a narrow residential one-way street in Wigton.

Barron was on his way to visit a business on New Street on the afternoon of 31 July 2019.

Cumbria Police had closed access to New Street as they responded to reports of stabbings taking place in the town centre.

Barron was diverted to Station Road amid what he called “chaotic” scenes and reversed his seven metre long white Mercedes Sprinter van through a no entry sign on to New Street around a 90-degree bend, before then travelling backwards along a straight section of the narrow road.

An eyewitness told Carlisle Crown Court that he had seen Mr Hughes walking along New Street towards traffic.  As he saw Barron’s van approach Mr Hughes from behind, the eyewitness ran to the van yelling “stop, stop, stop”, and banged on the back door.

Barron’s van ran over Mr Hughes, who suffered injuries he later died from, despite the efforts of the emergency services.

Barron went on trial at Carlisle Crown Court this week having denied causing Mr Hughes’ death by both dangerous and careless driving.

In evidence he told jurors he was driving with the “utmost care” but did not see Mr Hughes, a man in good health with no hearing impairments.

As he got out of his van, the first thing Barron said to Mr Hughes was “where the hell did you come from?”

When asked whether he had prioritised “convenience over safety” with his reversing manoeuvre, Barron replied “No.”

Despite claiming he had a clear view of New Street, the court heard of evidence of the van’s “48.8-metre blind spot” which exceeded the length of the straight road on which he reversed for 22 seconds.

Prosecutor Jon Close had earlier described a “slow-moving tragedy” which, he told jurors, “should never have happened”.

Barron, of Hillcrest Avenue, Carlisle, was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving but convicted, unanimously, of the alternative charge of causing death by careless driving.

Judge Guy Mathieson adjourned the case, ordering the preparation of a probation service report. Barron was bailed and is due to be sentenced on Monday 27 March.

In a statement released after his death, Mr Hughes’ family said: “Billy was a devoted family man, very active, and always willing to help in the local community.

“He dedicated much of his spare time to volunteering at St Cuthbert’s, his local church, which gave him great joy.

“His loving wife Alice, daughters Maureen and Jacqueline, and all the wider family, will miss him greatly.”

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