“I remember the knock on the door like it was yesterday. I will never forget my mum’s screams as long as I live.
“You carry it with you until the day you die.”
Trish Dearden was just six years old when her older brother Robert was killed after being hit by a car at the age of 22 - but she has carried the emotional trauma of the day with her for five decades.
Trish, who lives in Bradway in Sheffield with her husband and children, has decided to tell her family’s tragic story to back The Star’s Drive for Justice campaign which is calling on the Government to give judges greater sentencing powers in death by dangerous driving cases.
Now 52 years old, she said her family have never been able to come to terms with what happened to her brother, who was killed as he crossed a road.
The passenger in the car that hit him also died in the incident.
The man who was driving the vehicle that hit them was found not guilty of dangerous driving following a trial, making the family’s pain even harder to bear.
Trish has lived in Sheffield for 25 years but as a child grew up in South Shields in the north-east.
The death of her brother happened in February 1970 when he was living in Bristol and Trish was just six.
Her brother Robert Ord had a wife and a one-year-old son and was working for British Aerospace.
She said her family have been haunted by it ever since.
“The guy did not go to prison, he just walked out of court,” she said.
“My brother had a wife and baby waiting at home for him. He was crossing a road and was mowed down.
“It just wrecked my entire family.
“My family couldn’t discuss it because my mum and dad were in so much pain.”
Trish says that following the death of her parents, she has been trying to find out more details about the death of her brother and what happened in the court case.
But she said the length of time that has elapsed meant it has been difficult to get hold of official documents.
“Part of the pain now is I can’t get hold of any records to tell me what exactly happened,” she said.
She is now planning to travel to Bristol to try and get hold of archived information but is also appealing for people who may have known Robert at the time to come forward and tell her about him.
Trish said: “I remember it so clearly - the police knocking at our door to tell my parents the devastating news that in time caused my father’s mental breakdown from which he never recovered.
“I can still hear my mum’s painful cries coming from the kitchen as I sat in the lounge watching my dad cry.
“In those days there was no counselling like there is now, no-one to talk to, so it was locked away along with all the family photographs of Robert.
“My mum found it too painful to cope with. She had one photograph of him that she kept in a box in her bedroom. I used to sneak a look at it every now and then but I didn’t really know my brother.
“It has been the most painful time for me. It has been like trying to put a jigsaw together, all the pieces that were fragmented for so many years.”
She said she backs The Star’s campaign for a Government review of death by dangerous driving laws, after it was revealed that convicted killer motorists are sentenced to an average of just four years in prison, with dozens walking free from court with even more lenient sentences.
Trish said: “When people are killed by dangerous drivers we don’t get the chance to say goodbye to our precious loved ones. One minute they are there, the next they are gone.
“My parents have both passed away, I cannot talk to them about it and tell them that now I have a son of my own and I truly understand. I want to hold my parents and comfort them but I cannot.
“This happened over 40 years ago but for me it is like it happened yesterday.
“The only words I can use to describe the devastation that was brought into our lives are ‘emotional carnage’.
“The laws about punishments and sentencings must change; there is no question about that.
“I would not want anyone else to go through the lifetime of sadness I have known.
“Justice helps the victims; injustice makes it a million times worse.
“Robert’s death is part of me, it always has been and it is only recently that the full impact of it went from my head to my heart.”
Anyone who wishes to contact Trish can email firstname.lastname@example.org
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