A VAN driver who knocked down an 11-year-old boy as he cycled home from school has been forgiven by his victim’s family, a court has heard.
Jason Coull, 25, hit the boy because he was too distracted by paperwork as he drove his Mercedes on Boggs Holding Road, Pencaitland.
The schoolboy suffered a cracked skull and spent two weeks in a medically induced coma at the Sick Kids hospital after being struck as he cycled with a friend.
Coull admitted dangerous driving but yesterday avoided a jail sentence after Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told that the boy’s family had written a letter of support for the motorist.
Defence solicitor Angela
Craig told Sheriff Frank Crowe: “The family have actually written to my client on the reaction it has had on him and in recognition of his remorse and concern. It is a very supportive letter.”
Instead, Coull, of Acheson Drive, Prestonpans, was ordered to carry out 210 hours of unpaid work, banned from driving for two years and told he will have to re-sit the driving test.
Kirsty Anderson, prosecuting, read out a statement that Coull had given to police following the crash in June 2013.
It said: “I was just going round this left-hand bend, sitting behind another vehicle. As I came round the corner, I glanced down to my left to look at my work sheet to make sure I was going to the correct address. As I looked back up, I noticed a young boy on a push-bike on the left-hand side of my van.
“I tried to slam on the brakes as soon as I could, but the van struck him and knocked him off his bike. The van came to a stop shortly after that.
“I jumped out as soon as I could and saw the boy lying on the ground and another boy standing crying beside him. I put the boy on the ground in the recovery position and called the ambulance.”
The court heard that the boy suffered significant head injuries with severe swelling to his brain and his skull had to be drilled to relieve the pressure.
Sentencing Coull, Sheriff Crowe said he accepted it had been a momentary lapse of concentration.
He said: “I understand you had a new job and you were driving and keeping to a schedule.
“You were following another vehicle down a twisting B road, looking down at the schedule and missed seeing the boy on the cycle close to the grass verge and his friend walking on the verge.
“You reacted properly afterwards, stopped and took care of the boy until the emergency services arrived, and it is accepted you have shown remorse and concern about the boy.”
The court heard that the boy was now back at school and recovering well, although he has been left with a permanent impairment.
Speaking after her son woke from the coma in June 2013, the boy’s mother told how wearing a helmet had saved his life.
She said: “He is really making progress. He’s talking to people and he recognises his family and friends.
“He was woken up from the coma after one week, but he wasn’t able to handle it so doctors put him back to sleep for another week to let his brain recover. After that, he woke up and was able to cope with it.
“Medical staff told us that if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, he would have died.
“He’s always been very safety conscious and he wouldn’t have got on a bike without a helmet.”