St Leonards crash death accused has no case to answer

Published
image captionRichard Stemler denied causing the death of the 11-year-old by dangerous driving

A man accused of causing death by dangerous driving after knocking down and killing a schoolboy has been told by a judge he has no case to answer.

Harley Simpson, 11, died two weeks after being struck as he crossed the road in St Leonards, East Sussex.

Richard Stemler, 70, formerly of St Leonards, but now of Ethelburt Avenue, Southampton, denied causing death by dangerous driving on 22 October 2016.

The prosecution plans to appeal the ruling made at Hove Crown Court.

Harley, of Bulverhythe Road, St Leonards, was on his way to rugby practice when he was knocked down by a car which struck a pedestrian island where he was waiting to cross the A259 road.

His parents Gary Simpson and Jo Barradine said he had been "energetic", "full of life", and the "heart of the family".

image sourceFamily handout
image captionHarley Simpson had been walking from home to rugby practice when the crash happened

During the trial, the court was told Mr Stemler had undergone brain surgery in Spain to remove a benign tumour about five months before the crash.

It heard medical notes from the hospital did not show he had been told he must not drive and he must inform the authorities.

Edward Hand, for the prosecution, said by driving in the UK after his surgery "he was doing so dangerously", and there was agreed medical evidence that he was susceptible to seizures causing him to black out without warning.

'No evidence'

Two medical experts told the court that in the UK it is the duty of a doctor to tell a brain surgery patient to report his condition to the DVLA who will impose a driving ban of at least six months.

There was no record that the Spanish hospital had given such advice, and Mr Stemler said he had only been told to stop driving for just four weeks.

In ruling there was no case to answer, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said: "I have the gravest reservations whether it can fairly be said that this defendant was driving dangerously on the day in question in the sense that the prosecution allege.

"There is no evidence whatever that he was given proper advice in Spain about the danger of focal epileptic seizures following the removal of his brain tumour."

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