An elderly driver who crashed into and killed a father of two avoids jail term after he was forgiven by the victim’s family.

Edward Whalen, 89, crashed head on into Paul John, 45.

Paul John, 45, pushed his daughter Angela out of the car’s path but could not save himself.

Whalen first hit a child’s buggy and dragged a young mother along with it and then hit Paul John.

At the previous hearing Whalen was told to be ready for a jail sentence.

But the victim’s family sent a letter to the judge requesting him to show mercy to the elderly man.

Sentencing Judge Martin Rudland said it is not in the public’s interest if Whalen was sent to prison.

Prosecutor David Lees said the accident happened on 14 March at around 4:30pm when the car in front of Whalen braked near a junction to allow Paul John to cross who was at right to cross.

Whalen did not brake and tried to overtake the car where he mounted the car on a pavement and ended up hitting a child’s buggy and dragging a young mother for over 10 meters. The mother suffered a broken arm.

Whalen tried to swerve away from the buggy and crashed into Paul John who was coming from the opposite side.

Paul John suffered major brain injuries and was taken to hospital but later died.

Mr Paul’s daughter escaped with minor injuries and the little boy in the buggy was safe.

Police investigation concluded that Whalen had enough time to brake. Whalen was shocked and devestated when he saw the CCTV footage.

Concern was raised about Whalen’s eyesight in a previous hearing but an expert ophthalmologist examined him and said his eyesight was normal.

Judge Martin Rudland added Whalen recently had an surgery and was given aneshthesia which might have affected Whalen’s reaction.

Whalen who has been a train driver for over 50 years started his career when steam locomotives where in operation and later moved to high speed trains from London to Manchester. He has transported thousands of passengers, thousands of miles with no stain on his record. He has no prior conviction and no points on his driving license.

Alistair MacDonald QC, defending, said: “He is of hitherto impeccable character, in every sense of the word.

“The phrase salt of the earth could not be more apt. He’s deeply remorseful about what happened.

“Whatever sentence is passed upon him, nothing will affect him more than knowing he has killed a man, who was also a father and loved not just by his family but by those outside as well.

“He is the first to recognise the irreparable damage that has been done.”

Judge Martin Rudland said he has received many reference letters which shows the good character of Edward Whalen.

He also said he had received a letter from Mr John’s family adding: “(Mr John’s family) are an exceptional one in my opinion.

“They are a devout Christian family and have considered your own circumstances as well their own.

“They say have prayed for you and have contacted me to say their feelings are not full of vengeance, quite the reverse. And that is something they would wish to be taken into account.”

After his death Sajan Chacko, president of the Manchester Knanaya Catholic Association said: “He was a lovely man, he always had a nice smile on his face. He was never rude, and was always very friendly.

“He was very religious. He spent most of his time with the family, looking after the kids. That was his life. He would go to work, then go back and look after his family.”