Drunk pedestrian may not have heard Prius that killed him
A pedestrian who was killed when he was run over by a Toyota Prius may not have heard the vehicle approaching, a court has heard.
Neil Bird was pronounced dead in hospital having suffered severe head trauma after he was hit by the hybrid car in Wokingham Road, Reading.
The Prius's driver, Gagandeep Kakkad, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, and was banned for a year and a half.
Mr Bird was walking home from a bar in Reading at the time of the incident. CCTV footage and eyewitness evidence both suggest that he was walking in the road and dressed completely in black when he was struck by Mr Kakkad's car shortly after 4am.
Mr Kakkad said that he had been distracted by the lights of an oncoming car. However, his defence lawyer, Thomas Garner, has suggested that his client's estimated speed – less than 30mph – may also have been significant.
The Prius's hybrid drivetrain can run in all-electric mode at such speeds, during which time it produces almost no engine noise.
"It may be the lack of significant engine noise may not have alerted [Mr Bird]," Garner told the court.
He said that his client had accepted responsibility for the collision, but added that he still believed it had been a tragic accident.
"It has caused him significant problems," Mr Garner added. "He described being in total shock for about a week afterwards."
Prosecuting, Sandra Beck said: "The deceased in this case was in the road, and from where the car ended up we know he was right in the middle of the carriageway Mr Kakkad was travelling in.
"It was always the Crown's case he should have seen him for a significant period. It was quite clear there was no braking and no deviation prior to impact."
Sentencing Mr Kakkad to 200 hours of unpaid work over 12 months, £1,200 in court costs, and a driving ban of 18 months followed by an extended driving test, Judge Zoe Smith said that his distraction had been "little more than momentary inattention" and that evidence suggested that Mr Bird had started walking in the road.
She also accepted that Mr Kakkad was exceptionally remorseful.