Unlicensed driver killed his partner
A ST EWE pensioner with no valid licence caused the death of his partner by careless driving – and showed no remorse, a judge said.
Derek Knight, 68, was approaching a cyclist when he veered off the A39 on to a grass verge and hit a tree.
His partner Wendy Buttery, 76, a front-seat passenger, died at the scene of the accident, on June 4, 2011.
Knight, of the Old Stables, denied causing her death by careless driving, insisting a piece of cardboard had interfered with the pedals.
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At Truro Crown Court on Thursday a jury unanimously convicted him of the charge, bringing gasps of relief from Mrs Buttery's family and neighbours seated in the public gallery.
Judge Graham Cottle said: "Any time he got into that vehicle or any other vehicle he was committing a crime. I don't think he should ever drive again, quite frankly."
Knight had not shown any kind of remorse, he said. "If you kill your partner of 25 years by a piece of driving that's pretty poor, don't you feel sorry for that?"
Knight, dressed in a crumpled shirt and braces, listened to the verdict with a hearing aid. Leaving the dock, he ranted that it was "another miscarriage of justice", then thanked the judge for his time, "even though you did accept lies from both sides".
Knight and Mrs Buttery, a grandmother six times over, were between the crematorium and Trispen when the accident happened.
Knight told jurors he did not have a valid UK driving licence but had owned an international licence and had driven in 42 countries.
He claimed a piece of card had fallen from under the dashboard of his Peugeot 307, obstructing the pedals, causing the engine to rev and preventing him braking, but the jury heard a forensic examination found nothing that would have affected the controls and the car was in serviceable condition.
Knight also said after the accident he had lifted the bonnet and disconnected the battery.
Philip Lee, for the prosecution, said Knight threw "explanations in the air like confetti in the hope they would land in the right place. It's an invention by this man in a desperate attempt to explain what happened.
"If the explanation is untrue, there would be no reason for his feet to be trapped, there would be no reason for the engine to be revving and there would be no reason for him not to apply the brake if there was an emergency."
Mr Lee said Knight failed to react appropriately when he rounded a bend, with a cyclist ahead: "He carried out a completely unnecessary manoeuvre on to the verge and all the risks associated with it and just lost control."
Members of Mrs Buttery's family said they were pleased with the verdict.
Stepdaughter Maria White, 54, whose late father Dennis was married to Mrs Buttery for more than 30 years, said: "I'm pleased it's on record that he killed her by careless driving but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. We're hopeful of a custodial sentence because we feel that it would be appropriate.
"As the judge said, he showed no remorse, and that's what hurts. He couldn't even say, 'I'm sorry I killed her'."
Knight was due to be sentenced yesterday.