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OAP driver admits killing young girl on pelican crossing

A pensioner driver has admitted killing a three-year-old girl as she walked across a pelican crossing with her mother.

John Place admitted causing the death by dangerous driving of Poppy-Arabella Clarke and causing serious injury by dangerous driving of her mother.

The girl's parents described their daughter as the "the brightest, kindest, most caring" little girl, who was "simply a joy to be around".

The couple said they are now unable to have any more children, which made them "thankful for every second we had with her".

They said Place had so far shown them no remorse and called for him to be given a sentence that reflects their "unbearable pain".

The 72-year-old struck both mother and daughter as they crossed the busy Chester Road in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, on July 6, last year.

In court on Friday, looking frail and unsteady, Place entered pleas watched by Poppy-Arabella's parents and extended family.

Judge Mark Wall QC told Place, of Bakers Lane, Sutton Coldfield, that his offences were so serious he faced an "inevitable" jail term.

Mr Wall then adjourned the brief hearing at Birmingham Crown Court for medical reports, bailing Place to be back at court on March 20.

The judge said: "I must warn you, as you've heard me say, the offences you have pleaded guilty to are so serious that a custodial sentence is inevitable.

"It is only that a judge ought to be in full possession of your medical condition before sentencing that persuades me it's right to adjourn sentence at all."

After the hearing, Poppy-Arabella's parents said : "Poppy-Arabella was the brightest, kindest, most caring, articulate and funny little girl. Everywhere she went she would sing and dance, lighting up the world around her."

Phil and Rachel Clarke, in a statement released through solicitors Slater and Gordon, added: "She lived her life as if she was in a musical. To sing like that every day you have to be truly happy in your heart and that was Poppy-Arabella. She was simply a joy to be around.

"Poppy-Arabella was a ray of positivity, always saying 'you have to think happy thoughts'.

"She had a little rabbit called Ra Ra and if somebody was sad she would give them her rabbit to make them feel better.

"When you become a parent you have a dream of what it will be like.

"Having Poppy-Arabella in our lives for her short life surpassed anything that we could have imagined from a daughter.

"Now we are unable to have any more children we are thankful for every second we had with her.

"Every night, before we go to bed, we settle down together to watch videos of Poppy-Arabella dancing and singing as it keeps her alive. Watching her is enormously painful but it makes us feel like we can almost touch her.

"We miss her every single day and that will never change."

The little girl's parents added Place had "not shown a shred of remorse".

"He has not asked after us or seemed to care about the death of our beautiful little girl or the serious injuries he caused to her mother," they said.

"Worse, he has shown complete disregard for us, getting his wife to drive him past the crash site at least up to five times a week.

"Back and forth, to attend a church that is a stone's throw from the end of our road.

"This has forced us to see him while dealing with the unbearable pain of losing our daughter.

"While nothing will bring Poppy-Arabella back, we now hope the sentence he receives is a suitable punishment for the unquantifiable suffering he has caused."

Solicitor Richard Langton, of Slater and Gordon, said: "The loss of any life is a tragedy, but to lose a child so young is beyond comprehension.

"Poppy-Arabella and her mum were walking across a pelican crossing when the traffic lights were red. They should have been safe but Place drove through them, ending Poppy-Arabella's life and leaving Rachel with terrible injuries.

"Mr Place chose to do the right thing and plead guilty today. We now hope the sentence he received suitably reflects the severity of his crime."

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