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Jakus Michalski jailed for killing much-loved pensioner Brian Hawkes in Cheriton High Street

By Paul Hooper

An uninsured driver – who killed a much-loved Folkestone pensioner by speeding down Cheriton High Street – went to a cemetery to pray for him.

Religious Jakus Michalski, 32, was driving at twice the 30mph speed limit when he ploughed into Brian Hawkes' classic Vauxhall.

His sentencing was delayed for 10 minutes after his lawyer asked for permission for Michalski to talk to the victim’s nephew, Danny Hawkes, outside the courtroom to express his feelings.

Michalski has been jailed for four years
Michalski has been jailed for four years

But after watching a video of the horrendous smash, Judge Adele Williams jailed Michalski for four years. He will be banned from driving for five years.

Earlier this month, he admitted driving at up to 64mph along Cheriton High Street at 4pm on Saturday, August 1 last year.

Judge Williams told him: "Although I accept you did not set out to kill anyone that day this was grossly irresponsible behaviour.”

The scene of the crash in Cheriton
The scene of the crash in Cheriton

Canterbury Crown Court heard how 82-year-old Mr Hawkes had been shopping in the Vauxhall Firenza which he had owned since the 1970s.

As he performed a U-turn, Michalski’s Proton Gen-2 smashed into the vehicle – leaving Mr Hawkes suffering from multiple injuries from which he died at the scene.

Tributes were paid to Mr Hawkes, who was described as a "kind and considerate person" by his best friend.

Three eye-witnesses heard the revving of a car engine and one woman shouted for Michalski to slow down – before watching it crash into the Vauxhall.

Michalski later told one of the women at the scene: “I was speeding wasn’t I”.

He later revealed he and his girlfriend, had left their home 300 yards away in Cheriton Road to go for a pizza.

Flowers left in memory of Brian Hawkes
Flowers left in memory of Brian Hawkes

He said he put his foot down because he couldn’t see any traffic in the High Street, which has a 30 mph limit.

But prosecutor Ed Fowler revealed that had the Proton been travelling within the speed limit there would have been time for it to have slowed down and an accident would have been avoided.

Guy Wyatt, defending, said Michalski was “deeply contrite” and had asked for a “face-to-face” meeting with the nephew to express his feelings.

“That has taken place. He is a deeply religious man and he went to a cemetery to look for Mr Hawkes’ grave to pray for him. Unfortunately he couldn’t find it.”

Mr Wyatt added that Michalski had told him: “My life is broken”.

He said his girlfriend is pregnant but he isn’t sure he will play any part in either her or the future child’s life.

“He is now isolated and deeply troubled.”

Mr Hawkes’ niece, Eleanor Neely told the judge in the Victim Impact Statement that her uncle was a much loved member of the local community.

Mr Hawkes was described as a "kind and considerate person"
Mr Hawkes was described as a "kind and considerate person"

She said his “beloved car” was an icon for 40 years in the area.

Michalski admitted causing death by driving dangerously and without insurance.

The judge said watching the CCTV footage of the death crash had been "horrifying".

Det Con Aaron Hammond, the investigating officer, said: "This is a tragic and completely avoidable case. Had Michalski obeyed the speed limit then the 82-year-old man would not have died that day.

"Michalski showed a complete disregard for the law and an innocent man paid the price for his recklessness. I welcome the sentence he has received and I hope that this justice brings some comfort to the victim’s family.

"I would urge all road users to take the lessons from this case into account. Speed limits are in place for a reason and there is never a good reason to break them.

"Driving at excessive speed not only puts yourself at risk – it endangers the lives of everyone around you."

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