Payout for family of A38 collision victim Richard Neale
"OUR SON can finally rest in peace" – those are the words of Richard Neale's parents after they received damages from the man whose car was involved in the fatal collision which killed their son.
Richard was killed after his red Vauxhall Astra was hit by another car on the westbound carriageway of the A38, close to the B3252 Looe turn-off, in April 2010.
The driver of the other vehicle, Edward Ward, who was 82 at the time of the accident, was acquitted of causing death by careless driving at Truro Crown Court in October last year. But the Neales pursued a civil action against Mr Ward and this week agreed an undisclosed out-of-court settlement for damages.
Richard's father, Barrie Neale, 71, said during the criminal trial of Mr Ward the defence barrister had carried out 'a complete character assassination' of his dead son in his view.
"Richard was a decent boy who made mistakes in the past, but his history was used to drag his name through the mud when, at the end of the day, Mr Ward had turned right across the path of Richard's car, giving him no chance to avoid a collision."
The Neales received compensation from Mr Ward, a dairy farmer and churchwarden from Liskeard, last month, after agreeing an out-of-court settlement.
The couple said they pursued a civil action because they wanted justice for their son.
Mr Neale claimed Mr Ward had never said sorry to the family after Richard's death. During the trial, the defence barrister claimed that Richard was travelling at 100mph along the dual carriageway. However, neither the police nor defence experts were able to establish Richard's speed at the time of the crash.
Barrie Neale said: "The media was quick to suggest that Richard was driving over 100mph and that he was entirely to blame.
"When the barrister gave his summing up, it was disgusting. He was talking about somebody who wasn't there to defend himself.
"We felt like we were being punished all over again."
The couple accepted an offer made by Mr Ward and settled out of court.
Mr Neale said: "It wasn't done for the money. We could have gone further if we wanted to but we were all feeling the strain. It has destroyed my life as far as I'm concerned."
Dawn Neale, 53, said: "Every time I go through that junction I think about it. I just can't get it out of my head, whether he suffered," she added.
Richard had just finished his trial period on the Torpoint Ferry the week he died. He was killed on Thursday, April 8, and was due to start his permanent post the following Monday.
"When he was on the evening shift he used to work from 2pm until 10pm. He would phone me up at 9 o'clock to make sure we were OK and see what was for dinner," said Mrs Neale.
"I still expect him to walk through the door at 10pm."
Mr and Mrs Neale described their son as a helpful young man who would do anything for anybody.
"He was a very popular boy," Mr Neale said. "He was a young lad with a wise head on his shoulders.
"I really didn't realise how many people were so fond of him before we lost him," he added.
"He had a lovely smile. Everybody always said about his smile," Mrs Neale said.
The couple say friends and family have helped them to get through the past two years.
"We couldn't have done it without them," said Mrs Neale.
"The ferry boys still come and visit us. It's amazing. He was only there 18 months."
After the crash, Richard was transferred to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, by air ambulance and his friends and family have been fundraising for the air ambulance charity ever since. In 2010, the workers at the ferry raised nearly £4,500 from a charity auction. A further £1,000 was raised from donations at Richard's funeral.
Richard's cousins, Christina Broard, 29, and Sharon Broard, 23, recently ran a half-marathon and have raised more than £3,000 through fundraising.
"They have been fantastic," said Mrs Neale.
The money raised by the Broards is being presented to the air ambulance at a special event this Saturday, one day before what would have been Richard's 23rd birthday.