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Van driver Sivananthan Mathivathanan admits driving carelessly before causing death of Valentino and Olivia Coleman

By Paul Hooper

A Thanet van driver has admitted causing the death of a father and daughter by driving carelessly on the A299 last October.

But Sivananthan Mathivathanan denies driving dangerously and will now face a trial later this year.

Valentino Coleman and his daughter Olivia died after they had pulled up behind a stationary Renault Clio on Hengist Way in Minster.

Liv Coleman was killed in the crash alongside her father Valentino
Liv Coleman was killed in the crash alongside her father Valentino

The 49-year-old and 21-year-old had been travelling in a Toyota Aygo when they stopped and tragedy struck.

Mr Coleman, known to most as Tino, was the owner of One Hairdressing in Market Buildings, Maidstone.

Now his family attended Canterbury Crown Court to hear the van driver formally offer his plea to not guilty to causing their deaths by driving dangerously.

Mathivathanan, 44, of Grange Road Broadstairs said he was prepared to plea to the lesser careless driving charge.

Judge Rupert Lowe was told that the CPS did not accept the plea to the more serious offence and a three- day trial will now take place on November 19.

Mr Coleman was also killed in the crash
Mr Coleman was also killed in the crash

After the 15-minute hearing, in which Mathivathanan was given bail, the judge praised Mr Coleman’s family and friends for attending and behaving in “such a dignified way.”

After father and daughter' deaths, close friend Steven Betts, who runs Stainless Steve's Tattoo Shop, said:"He was such a great guy and a good friend who will be sadly missed. He always had time for everybody."

Another neighbour, Diane Potter said: “They were a really lovely family, we used to call them the ideal family as they had such beautiful daughters.

"I found out from a friend as we were all members of the Woodlands school Facebook group.

"I was friends with him on Facebook too. It is very sad."

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