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Pensioner told not to drive because of failing eye-sight killed Aviemore cyclist


By Ali Morrison

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A Kingussie pensioner who was warned not to drive because of his failing eyesight killed a cyclist when he hit him with his car.

John Johnstone was driving home from a visit to a vehicle body repair business when he collided with Hanno Garbe on the old A9 near Loch Alvie.

KEEN CYCLIST: Hanno Garbe was killed after being hit by Mr Johnstone's car on the B9152 near Loch Alvie.
KEEN CYCLIST: Hanno Garbe was killed after being hit by Mr Johnstone's car on the B9152 near Loch Alvie.

Johnstone (84) was told months earlier by an optometrist that he had cataracts in both eyes and must not drive.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday: "The accused was aware that he could not drive until after a successful cataract operation.

"As at March 4 in 2019 he had not had the operation."

Johnstone, of Gynack Road, Kingussie, admitted causing the death of Mr Garbe (57) by driving dangerously on March 4 last year on the B9152 Aviemore to Kincraig road near to the loch.

Kingussie pensioner John Johnstone had been told not to drive because of his failing eyesight.
Kingussie pensioner John Johnstone had been told not to drive because of his failing eyesight.

He drove his Kia Picanto car in the knowledge that his vision was severely impaired and below the standard required for driving.

Johnstone failed to maintain observations of the road ahead and failed to see Mr Garbe, a keen cyclist, and fatally struck him with his car.

Mr Garbe, a German national, had moved to the UK in 2007 and set up home with his wife, Dagmar, in the Aviemore area 11 years ago, and latterly lived on Mitchell Road.

The senior sales manager with global firm Siemens suffered multiple injuries in the crash, including to his head, chest and pelvis.

Mr Prentice said in September 2018 Johnstone, a widower, went to Specsavers in Inverness for his annual routine sight test.

He told optometrist Ellen Torrance that the sight in his right eye was deteriorating and his distance and near vision seemed worse.

Mr Prentice said: "He stated he was struggling with watching television, following the ball when playing golf and also driving."

The prosecutor said: "At the conclusion of the eye examination Ellen Torrance told the accused that he had a big drop in his distance vision and a cataract in his right and left eyes.

"She concluded that the accused did not meet the driving standards and told the accused he could not lawfully drive; must not drive and must notify DVLA of his condition.

The assessment was confirmed two months later when Johnstone attended at the eye clinic at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

After the fatal collision police attended and Johnstone, who was wearing glasses, was required to take a roadside eye test and failed.

Mr Prentice told the court: "He could only read the registration plate at a distance of 4.8 metres. The requirement is to be able to read it at 20 metres."

Johnstone later told police that he did not see Mr Garbe prior to the collision.

Police accident investigators concluded that he failed to observe the cyclist and that the cause was likely to be his poor eyesight, although low sun at that time of year could have been a contributory factor.

Johnstone drove into the rear of Mr Garbe's bike when they were both on the southbound lane of the road.

After the collision Johnstone got out of his car and found the victim lying unconscious on the road.

Paramedics, who were called to the scene, took Mr Garbe to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness with serious, life-threatening head injuries and he died on March 5 last year.

The judge, Lord Fairley, called for a background report to be prepared on Johnstone ahead of sentencing next month. Johnstone followed the proceedings via a video link to Inverness Sheriff Court and was given an interim ban on holding a driving licence.

Neighbours said in the wake of his death that Mr Garbe and Dagmar were very much the happy couple, living simply and doing so many things together.



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