Harley trial: Parents ‘will not give up’ fundraising after judge’s ruling

Harley Simpson
Harley Simpson

The parents of an 11-year-old boy who died after he was involved in a collision said they ‘will not give up’ fundraising in his name after a trial relating to his death was thrown out of court.

Harley Simpson, 11, of Bulverhythe Road, St Leonards, died in hospital on November 4, 2016, after being involved in a collision with a silver Renault Espace, in Bexhill Road, while on his way to rugby practice on October 22, 2016.

Richard Stemler, 70, formerly of Wishing Tree Road, St Leonards, but who now lives in Spain, had been accused of causing Harley’s death by dangerous driving but, at Hove Crown Court, on Monday, judge Jeremy Gold QC ruled he had ‘no case to answer’ and dismissed the jury.

Speaking outside the court on Monday afternoon, Harley’s mum Jo Barradine and dad Gary Simpson thanked the community of St Leonards for their support after Harley’s death.

They said: “The St Leonards community has been so supportive. We had about a hundred people attend a memorial service for him and they have been so helpful in the lead up to this trial.

“Our journey since the incident has been incredibly painful and will continue to be for the rest of our lives.

“He was taken from us at such a young age and we wouldn’t wish the pain of loss on anyone.

“We will not give up thinking about him and fundraising in his memory.”

Since Harley’s death, Jo and Gary have helped raise more than £20,000 for a number of charities including the Ronald McDonald House, the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, Brake and You Raise Me Up.

Jo added: “We wanted to raise money for the air ambulance because Harley was airlifted on the day of the accident and then our fundraising for Brake is to encourage more peace on our roads.

“Our main fundraising has been for You Raise Me Up – a charity based in Polegate – which offers support to bereaved families.”

At Hove Crown Court, on Monday, Mr Stemler – who had undergone an operation in Spain to have a brain tumour removed four and a half months before the accident – was told he ‘had no case to answer’ as no medical professionals had advised him not to drive following his brain operation, judge Jeremy Gold QC said.

Spanish medical records indicated Mr Stemler was not given any advice relating to driving post-operation but medical professionals told Hove Crown Court he would have been barred from driving for six months had he been operated on in the United Kingdom.

Solicitors representing Harley’s family hoped ‘lessons would be learnt’ from the trial in order to prevent further tragedies in the future.

Trevor Sterling, a partner at Moore Blatch, said: “The last 18 months haven’t been easy for the family and our thoughts remain with them.

“We are dismayed by the court’s ruling today. Whilst we respect the decision, and we now understand fully why this fatal accident occurred, we only hope that lessons will be learnt to prevent something like this from happening again.

“The duty for an individual to report to the DVLA is imperative, it is paramount that the law deters failure to do so.

“We will strive to work with the DVLA and criminal investigators to ensure that the respective bodies are made aware of any of the issues relating to a certain driver.”

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Man accused of causing 11-year-old boy’s death has ‘no case to answer’