Family brands death driver a ‘coward’

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A man who left a father-of-two to die after running him over in his van was today branded a “coward” by his victim’s family.

Father-to-be Robert Valiant was sentenced to two years in jail for causing Paul Brindle’s death.

The scene on Oldfield Carr Lane, Poulton, where Paul Brindle died.

The scene on Oldfield Carr Lane, Poulton, where Paul Brindle died.

Valiant, 31, had been found guilty at a previous hearing of causing death by careless driving, after he hit 35-year-old Mr Brindle following a duck shoot in Poulton.

Speaking to The Gazette after the hearing at Preston Crown Court, Mr Brindle’s sister Sarah Butters, 40, said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the two year sentence.

“Whatever the sentence was it would never bring Paul back, and we were prepared for it not to be enough.”

She added: “Today, my nephew and niece are without a dad, and we have to tell them that the coward that killed their dad is going to prison for two years, but at least we know he is guilty, and at least we know he is in prison tonight.”

Mr Brindle, from Breck Road, Poulton, was walking along Oldfield Carr Lane at around midnight, on his way back from a duck shoot he had organised in September 2012.

He was found with serious head injuries in the road, and later died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Valiant, a builder from Evesham Road, Grange Park, did not stop at the scene of the crash, and had denied his guilt throughout the trial.

Paul Brookwell, prosecuting, read a statement on behalf of Mr Brindle’s father Anthony.

He said: “Mr Valiant’s actions have taken away Mr Brindle’s future, along with the future of his family.

“The past year has been a battle between normality and overwhelming grief.”

Describing the moment the family visited the crash scene, Mr Brookwell added: “They stood there in silence, sobbing as they looked at the bloodstained road, holding each other for support.”

As a result of the tragedy, Anthony Brindle became seriously ill and had to sell the family business which he ran with his son – causing eight jobs to be lost.

Mr Brookwell told the court Mr Brindle’s children had released balloons from their garden following his death, in the hope their father would see them.

Mark Aldred, defending Valiant, said: “Can I start by expressing Mr Valiant’s sorrow for this tragedy, a man’s life was cut short.”

He added: “Mr Valiant is no stranger to tragedy.

“He lost his 12-year-old sister, and more recently in 2011 his partner lost her child in utero.

“They are expecting another, and now he must come to terms with the fact he will not be there to assist his partner with her pregnancy at this crucial time.”

Judge Andrew Woolman sentenced Valiant, who showed no emotion in the dock, to two years in jail and banned him from driving for three years.

Addressing Valiant, who had no previous convictions and was described as being of good character, Judge Woolman said: “Your actions were selfish and callous in the extreme, and at that point you were only bothered about yourself.”

He added: “The expression of remorse is to be taken with a pinch of salt, because if you were remorseful you would have stopped, or at the very least pleaded guilty.”

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Aldred had described Valiant as a “friend” of Mr Brindle.

However, outside the court, Mrs Butters said: “My brother was no friend of Robert Valiant.

“I hope when he spends the next two years in prison he reflects on his decision to leave a man to die in the road.”