Motorist jailed for causing death of pedestrian in Darwen

Thursday, May 25, 2023

A man has been jailed for causing the death of a man in Darwen.

Kristian Rawcliffe (pictured top right), 26, was behind the wheel of his friend’s modified Renault Clio when it collided with victim Sion Chaisty (pictured bottom right) at speed on Pole Lane, Darwen, at around 6pm on June 26, 2021.

A jury at Preston Crown Court was told that minutes before the fatal collision, Rawcliffe drove the Renault out of a nearby pub car park and according to witnesses drove aggressively away up Pole Lane.  One witness described him as “showboating”. 

Rawcliffe then reached speeds of 48mph as he sped up the hill.

Rawcliffe turned the car further up the road and drove back down towards the pub as he negotiated traffic calming measures, approaching roadworks and signage that indicated pedestrians may be in the road. 

He reached speeds of no less than 58mph as he sped back towards the pub, almost twice the legal speed limit of 30mph. 

For an unknown reason, Mr Chaisty ran from his garden and into the road as the speeding Renault approached. 

Mr Chaisty was struck by the speeding Renault and catapulted high into the air before landing on the pavement next to the pub car park.

Mr Chaisty was treated at the scene by paramedics and a doctor from the North West Air Ambulance.  Sadly, due to the severe injuries that he sustained in the collision, Mr Chaisty died in hospital the next day, aged 44.

The distressing CCTV footage gathered during the investigation was played to the court, along with expert evidence provided by the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit. 

It was heard that if Mr Rawcliffe was travelling at the speed limit, then it is likely that the collision would not have happened. 

Rawcliffe, of Amberwood Drive, Blackburn, was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving after the jury deemed that his driving was not dangerous. He was instead convicted of causing the death of Mr Chaisty by careless driving, to which he had already pled guilty.

Judge Robert Altham, the Honorary Recorder of Preston, said: “This was on the very cusp of dangerous driving.  The predominant and overwhelming cause was the speed of the car the defendant was driving.” 

Rawcliffe was sentenced to 12 months in prison and banned from driving for two and a half years. He then must take an extended re-test.

In their victim impact statements Mr Chaisty’s family and work colleagues described him as a highly regarded illustrator who worked for high profile clients such as Lotus, Bentley, Ford and MacLaren.  Sion’s sister, Nicole, spoke of how heartbroken she was at the loss of her kind, considerate and thoughtful brother and the devastating effect it has had on family and friends.

Mr Chaisty’s father described Sion as not just a son, but a best friend. He spoke of how Sion wasn’t a materialistic man and he did not spend money on everyday items because he was saving to retire at 50 and travel. 

“He will never get to see the world.  My oldest son arrived in this world to great excitement. He left in great sadness,” Mr Chaisty’s father added.

PC David Todhunter, from our Road Policing Unit, said: “This has been a tough and emotional trial for Sion Chaisty’s family and no sentence will ever reflect the heartbreak caused at the loss of their loved one.  Mr Chaisty’s family have been very thankful for the help and assistance provided to them by Family Liaison Officer PC Jenna Millward.

“I would like to say thanks to those who tried to assist Mr Chaisty at the scene, the witnesses who helped with our investigation and also those who provided CCTV footage.

“I would like to point out that this is a tragic example of the consequences of driving too fast. The speed in which Mr Rawcliffe drove on that day led to the death of a well-loved innocent man.  Although the conviction will not bring Mr Chaisty back, I hope it can help towards giving his family some closure. 

“This is another example of how speed is a factor in many serious and fatal collisions, showing just how speeding can have tragic consequences.  I urge people to take notice of the speed limit and to the conditions.”

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