Michael Copleston had four grandchildren – including William and Greg (pictured)
An elderly motorist has been jailed for 18 months for killing a former policeman when he drove down a busy motorway in the wrong direction.
Leonard Pettifer, 86, was behind the wheel of his Ford Ka when it struck former policeman Michael Copleston, 60, on the M20 near Ashford, Kent.
The pensioner from Romney had been visiting his wife in hospital, where he had stayed for eight hours without eating.
He then joined the M20 but realised he needed to go the other way – and instead of exiting at the next junction, did a ‘U’ turn in the outside carriageway.
CCTV showed he did not try to stop on the hard shoulder or exit via a slip road – and continued to drive in lane three.
Pettifer has already admitted causing the death by dangerous driving of Mr Copleston last November – but was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court today.
Mr Pettifer (second right), who served in the Metropolitan Police for three decades, is pictured with his daughter Donna Clarkson (left), wife Pauline (centre left) and son Grant (right)
Mr Pettifer joined the M20 near Ashford in Kent but realised he needed to go the other way – and instead of exiting at the next junction, did a ‘U’ turn in the outside carriageway
The sentencing of Pettifer – who had held a full driving licence at the time – had been delayed because it was feared he might have a heart attack.
Judge Heather Norton imposed an immediate driving ban after an earlier court appearance, noting he had failed an eye test after the accident.
Mr Copleston, of Hawkinge, who died at the scene, was described as a devoted husband to his wife Pauline of 39 years, two children and four grandchildren.
He served in the Metropolitan Police for three decades and was an advanced motorcycle and car instructor who trained other officers in road safety.
Mr Copleston was described as a devoted husband to his wife Pauline (pictured) of 39 years
Mr Copleston, of Hawkinge, Kent, who died at the scene, is pictured with his wife Pauline
After the accident his daughter, Donna Clarkson, said: ‘He’s left a huge gap in everyone’s lives and will be greatly missed by all.
Elderly drivers in the UK: What is the law?
There is no UK legal limit on the age at which people need to stop driving.
But motorists aged over 70 do have to fill in a self-assessment form every three years asking them to declare if they have any medical conditions that make them unsafe to drive.
Some physical or medical conditions must be reported to the DVLA, such as epilepsy or visual impairments.
‘He retired from the police and has worked for the American Embassy as a chauffeur.
‘They have said he was one of the best drivers they had, very knowledgeable and a great guy who was respected by everyone.’
Investigating police officer Derek Mole said: ‘Pettifer was completely unfit to drive and his actions sadly caused the death of a man.
‘His decision has now led to an 18 month sentence and I hope that provides some small comfort to the family who lost a loved one.
‘Motorists have to hold themselves to account. If you’re unfit to drive don’t step behind the wheel.’