Sheffield death driver spared prison

Charles Farrar leaves Sheffield Crown Court after being sentenced for causing death of Adrian Keeton by careless driving.
Charles Farrar leaves Sheffield Crown Court after being sentenced for causing death of Adrian Keeton by careless driving.
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A driver aged 87 killed a much-loved dad by ploughing through a red light in Sheffield and careering into his van, impaling it on a fence.

Pensioner Charles Farrar was behind the wheel of his silver Rover 75 illegally, having forgotten to renew his driving licence.

His victim, Adrian Keeton, aged 50, died at the scene on Brightside Lane in Attercliffe from a horrific catalogue of multiple injuries.

The tragedy was witnessed by Mr Keeton’s traumatised daughter Hayley who was sat in the van with him - and, by coincidence, by his brother Paul Keeton who happened to be in the area at the same time.

Farrar yesterday admitted causing death by careless driving.

But he walked free with a nine-month suspended jail term - a sentence Mr Keeton’s relatives said was ‘disgusting’ as they left Sheffield Crown Court.

Farrar was driving along Brightside Lane, with his wife in the passenger seat, when he headed straight through a red light at the junction with Newhall Road and collided with Mr Keeton’s Renault panel van.

“The impact caused the van to flip over onto the driver’s side,” said James Baird, prosecuting.

“It became impaled on some metal posts which intruded into the van, trapping the deceased and his daughter inside the vehicle.

“By total coincidence the crash was witnessed by Mr Keeton’s brother, Paul Keeton.

“He said the defendant’s driving just didn’t change. He didn’t slow down, speed up, turn, or anything.”

Mr Baird said a doctor, Yasmin Abass, was travelling behind Farrar’s car and described his vehicle going ‘straight across the junction’, leaving her ‘shocked’.

“It made no deviations, no change in speed, it drove straight through the red stop signal,” said Mr Baird.

Police and paramedics attended and Dr Abass assisted, but Mr Keeton died at the scene from injuries including abdominal trauma and bleeding on the brain.

The court heard Farrar, of Ranulf Court, Abbeydale Road South, Millhouses, had had two cataract operations in the months before the crash - but his sight had been tested and he was cleared to drive.

He had been due to renew his driving licence in April 2011, but his barrister Kevin Jones said he’d had ‘other things on his mind’ as his wife had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Judge Paul Watson QC said the crash at 3.30pm on March 20 last year was ‘utterly, utterly tragic’.

“Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the pain and hopeless feeling of loss it brings about,” he said.

“But to lose someone suddenly when he was in the prime of his life is doubly distressing, and one can only guess at the anguish the family have been through.”

Mr Jones said Farrar had worked hard all his life and had no previous convictions.

He added: “It was clearly a lapse of concentration on his part, resulting in these tragic circumstances.”

Sentencing him, Judge Watson told Farrar: “All I can do is balance the need to impose punishment for your bad driving with the need to do justice to reflect your blameless, hard working and productive 87 years of life, and the horror at what you have done.”