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Family issue High Court proceedings for £300k damages claiming negligence by driver Jonathan Knowles
THE children of a couple killed when they were mown down by a drunken driver in Sandbanks are claiming damages of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Alan and Rochelle Bernard died instantly when Jonathan Knowles, the son of a property tycoon, ploughed into them at high speed as they strolled along a pavement in 2010.
Now their three children, aged between 21 and 30, have issued High Court proceedings to claim damages to be assessed, but which will exceed £300,000.
James, Robert and Natasha Bernard, of Northwood in Middlesex, issued the proceedings in London on August 6 claiming negligence by Knowles, who admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving in 2011 and was jailed for seven years.
They have stressed he was under the influence of alcohol, drove at excessive speed for the conditions, failed to keep any proper lookout, failed to observe the presence of the deceased as pedestrians, failed to slow down, brake or stop and drove onto the pavement.
The couple had been for a meal with their daughter, Natasha, and a friend of hers, as well as family friend Penny Michalowski and her son, Lawrence, at Cafe Shore before tragedy struck. Mrs Michalowski was seriously injured in the incident.
Natasha and her friend left the restaurant to go to a party and the rest of the group were walking along Sandbanks Road when Knowles, who was 33 at the time, staggered into his mother's £60,000 Mercedes sports car.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard he sped around “like a Formula 1 driver” with tyres squealing before losing control of the car and killing the couple, who were walking back to their holiday home. Mr Bernard, 53, was a successful businessman and Managing Director of home extension firm Plus Rooms. His wife was 51-years-old.
The court was told Knowles, whose parents live in Sandbanks, had been drowning his sorrows after filing for bankruptcy the previous day.
Judge Samuel Wiggs said Knowles had decided to get behind the wheel “rather than walk 300 yards to get yourself home.”
He added: “You must have known you had drunk too much to drive - the tragedy is almost impossible to describe.”
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