Victim DNA identifies hit and run driver

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A hit-and-run driver was traced after police found an injured pedestrian’s DNA on his damaged car, which he had parked at his home.

A hit-and-run driver was traced after police found an injured pedestrian’s DNA on his damaged car, which he had parked at his home.

Guest house owner Graham Kennett told police he may have blacked out and thought he had hit a ‘post or a wall’ rather than a person, a court heard.

He drove back to his bed and breakfast in Sidmouth, leaving severely injured pedestrian Francis Milner unconscious on the pavement, where he was found by a resident who was alerted by the sound of the late-night accident.

Mr Milner had been crossing Arcot Road after getting off a bus just before midnight when he was hit, but he was left with no memory of what happened.


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He spent six days in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital with a broken arm and bone-deep gashes on his legs, and his life has been severely affected by the accident, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Kennett, 58, of Vicarage Road, Sidmouth, admitted careless driving and failing to stop or report an accident. He was fined £1,050 with £85 costs and his licence was endorsed with eight points by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC.

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He told him: “The circumstances of this accident remain unclear. The victim has no recollection and nobody saw it. There is no evidence of excessive speed or bad driving over any distance.

“The fact is you struck that pedestrian and have pleaded guilty on the basis it was a momentary loss of concentration. It is an aggravating feature that Mr Milner suffered serous injuries which have had a substantial effect on his life.

“It is said by you that you were unaware you had struck another human being in the road. I have great difficulty in accepting that proposition.

“On any view of the case, you failed to stop and see what had happened or to tell anyone about the accident while Mr Milner was there injured and waiting for someone to raise the alarm and arrange an ambulance. I regard the failing to stop as serious on any view of the facts.”

Miss Emmi Wilson, prosecuting, said the accident happened as Mr Milner was returning home on August 30 last year after getting off a bus in Arcot Road.

She said: “He started walking across the road and that is his last memory before he woke up being tended by paramedics for injuries which were initially thought to be life-threatening.

“A neighbour heard a collision and went out to investigate and heard what he thought was someone snoring in a garden, before he realised it was a badly injured Mr Milner.

“Police identified the type of car from the debris. There was obvious damage to a front wing and the left hand driver’s mirror.

“Officers called at Kennett’s home and he said he had blacked out. He said he had drunk a glass of wine since returning, but a breath test confirmed he was under the limit.

“He said he had been driving home on a road he knew well when he heard a bang. He said he woke up and realised there had been a collision, but thought it was a post or a wall. He said he did not stop because he only lived a short distance away and thought it better to drive home and park the car.”

She said tests on DNA from the damaged car confirmed they came from Mr Milner.

Mr Rupert Taylor, defending, said Kennett is a man of good character who had no driving convictions at the time.

He said he had not fallen asleep, but had not realised that he had hit a pedestrian.

Mr Taylor added: “The car was not secreted and there was no attempt to disguise what happened. He is adamant he was not aware he had struck somebody. This was a momentary lapse in his driving.

“He asks to make an abject apology to Mr Milner. There is no suggestion he intended him any harm. Whatever the sentence, he will still wake up every morning with this on his mind. It is a tragic case for both parties.”

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