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'Wrong way' driver admits causing death of motorcyclist on M20 near Ashford

By Paul Hooper

An 86-year-old man who drove the WRONG way along the M20 causing the death of a motorcyclist failed an eye test after the accident.

Leonard Pettifer was at the wheel of his Ford Ka when it struck 60 year old former policeman Michael Copleston, from Hawkinge, on the coastbound carriageway.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how the pensioner had been visiting his wife in hospital where he had stayed for eight hours without eating.

Mr Copleston was described as a devoted husband to his wife Pauline of 39 years
Mr Copleston was described as a devoted husband to his wife Pauline of 39 years

He then joined the M20 but realised he needed to go in the opposite direction but instead of exiting at the next junction...just did a ‘U’ turn in the outside carriageway

Pettifer, from Snargate Lane, Snargate, Romney Marsh pleaded guilty to causing the death of devoted husband Mr Copelstonand will now be sentenced in four weeks times.

Judge Heather Norton imposed an immediate driving ban after the pensioner’s appearance at Canterbury Crown Court...noting he had failed an eye test after the accident.

Mr Copleston was a devoted husband to his wife Pauline of 39 years, a father to two and grandfather to four.

The scene of the accident.
The scene of the accident.

He served in the Metropolitan Police for three decades and was an advanced motorcycle and car instructor who trained other officers in road safety.

After the tragic accident his daughter, Donna Clarkson, paid tribute to her father yesterday saying: “He’s left a huge gap in everyone’s lives and will be greatly missed by all. 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.”

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