A KEIGHLEY man was found not guilty of causing death by careless driving in a trial at Bradford Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

David Stell, 62, of Moorlands Avenue, Keighley, was charged with causing death by careless/inconsiderate driving without due care and attention following the crash which occurred on December 14, 2021, on Keighley Road, Oakworth, which resulted in the death of Peter Kelly.

Mr Kelly, who was described as a “much-loved cornerstone who kept his family together”, died when a Toyota Supra driven by Strell struck him on Keighley Road, Oakworth.

The incident occurred when Stell, who was driving with his son as passenger, collided with Mr Kelly when he stepped into Keighley Road near the junction of Oakbank Broadway.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Keighley Road, OakworthKeighley Road, Oakworth (Image: Google Street View)

Two witnesses in the area at the time described seeing Mr Kelly on the roadside, and while they did not see the impact, both said they heard a “loud bang” and saw Mr Kelly being “thrown over the car”. And both saw the brake lights on Stell’s car applied after the impact.

Prosecuting, Alasdair Campbell said that Stell had a “lapse in concentration”.

“He definitely took his eye off the ball and had just about enough time to make a full stop before the impact.

“In an interview, Mr Stell said he could see a man (Mr Kelly) standing on the pavement from 50 metres away.

“Even though he did not see him stepping directly onto Keighley Road, he should have been on notice. It was theoretically possible that he could have avoided the collision.”

The prosecution called on the expert testimony of Robert Eyre, West Yorkshire Police’s senior forensic collision investigator.

Mr Eyre said: “Most drivers (in a similar situation) would need a minimum of 1.6 seconds and 2.1 seconds to react.”

He said in this instance 1.85 seconds would have been enough to avoid the collision.

Before defence solicitor Miss Smith began her defence, she asked Judge Boyd if there “no case to answer” stating that her client’s driving was “not careless” but that he “could not stop in time”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' CourtBradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court (Image: Newsquest)

And while her client had initially seen Mr Kelly standing back from the side of the road, she argued that “he couldn’t have anticipated Mr Kelly entering the road”.

Judge Alexander Boyd, however, said there was a case to answer and asked Miss Smith to prepare her defence.

Called to give evidence, Stell said: “I saw him several yards down the road, perhaps 50 yards, just standing near the junction of Oakbank Broadway.

“The next time I saw him was the point of impact. I was watching the road ahead as I knew there was a slightly blind junction ahead that I had to pay attention to.

“It happened so suddenly. I didn’t expect him to step into Keighley Road. I was driving with care and paying attention to my surroundings.

“I felt there was nothing I could do to avoid the collision.”

Miss Smith said: “Every driver cannot be expected to anticipate every eventuality. Mr Stell did what he could to prevent a collision.

“This was a very fast-moving incident, and it’s borderline whether the collision was truly avoidable. It raises reasonable doubt and I ask for a not guilty verdict.

Judge Boyd said: “This was a tragic incident that resulted in the death of Peter Kelly. It’s a sad loss felt by his family and my condolences are with them.

Judge Boyd said that Stell had a “momentary lapse” but was a man of “good character” who was “consistent throughout giving evidence that he was concentrating on the road ahead”.

The judge also said that experts giving evidence concluded that he could have stopped the collision if Stell could have reacted in 1.85 seconds but said that the typical reaction time for a driver was between 1.6 and 2.1 seconds.

“I cannot be sure that a reasonably competent driver would have stopped and I therefore find Mr Stell not guilty.”

After the case Mr Kelly’s son, Shaun Kelley paid tribute to his dad, saying: “He was a much-loved husband, father, grandfather and friend.

“He had a wicked sense of humour, and if you told him something he would do the opposite.

“He was an ex-builder who would help anybody.

“He loved his sport, and in his family we’ve all played rugby league.

“He played for Keighley Albion and also played football for Keighley Shamrocks and Steeton.

“He was an ex-serviceman who served in the Korean War and later in Kenya.

“Losing him was very hard for us as a family. He was a cornerstone who kept everybody together.”