Birmingham & Black Country

Driver jailed over Poppy-Arabella Clarke crossing death

Poppy-Arabella Clarke Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Poppy-Arabella Clarke's parents said she was "the brightest, kindest, most caring" little girl

A pensioner who killed a three-year-old girl weeks after being told to stop driving because of poor eyesight has been jailed for four years.

Poppy-Arabella Clarke and her mother Rachel were struck by John Place's car as they crossed Chester Road in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, in July 2016.

Her mother was also seriously injured in the crash.

Place, 72, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

At the time of the incident the traffic lights were on red and the green light was flashing for pedestrians, police said.

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Place, of Bakers Lane, Sutton Coldfield, was jailed at Birmingham Crown Court.

He told police he was not wearing his glasses and that he had not seen the red light or the crossing itself.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The collision on Chester Road happened in July 2016

In a family statement, Poppy-Arabella's parents Rachel and Phil said their daughter had spent the morning "playing with mummy" and "was excited to be heading to nursery to see her friends".

The family's lawyer called for a "Poppy-Arabella's law" requiring medical professionals to report people unfit to drive to the DVLA.

The statement added Place "did not swerve, he did not brake and he did not stop".

He only stopped when flagged down by another driver.

Changing the law

Poppy-Arabella's parents are calling for a change in the law, requiring medical professionals to report people who are unfit to drive the DVLA.

Their call follows the introduction in 2013 of "Cassie's Law", named after Cassie McCord, who was 16 when she died in 2011.

Colin Horsfall, 87, mounted a pavement at speed in Colchester, Essex, striking Cassie, having failed a police eye test days earlier.

Police had been in the process of getting Mr Horsfall banned after he refused to surrender his licence.

A campaign by Cassie's mother Jackie led to a change in the law, giving police more power to revoke driving licences.

Police previously had to write or fax a request for licence removal, but the change means they can now telephone or email, with a dedicated email for police to use.

Email confirmation from the DVLA means the licence is revoked so police can stop someone driving there and then.

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Place's car struck Poppy-Arabella Clarke and her mother Rachel on a crossing in Sutton Coldfield

A police spokesman said Poppy-Arabella's parents "continue to suffer enormously from their loss".

He added: "Place should not have been driving that day as, quite simply, his vision was severely impaired."

Paying tribute to his daughter, Poppy-Arabella's father Phil said: "We will miss her forever, we will love her for always.

"We have been left with a life sentence without our little girl, whose entire life was stolen from her in a fraction of a second."

Place has also been disqualified from driving for five years from the date of his release from prison.

At a previous hearing, the court heard Poppy-Arabella's parents were unable to have any more children and said Place had so far shown them no remorse.

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