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Hit-and-run driver shouted abuse at victim, 86, before leaving him for dead

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:18 04 October 2018

The family of hit and run victim Brian Mitchell talk about the impact his death has had on the family.
Jean Mitchell with her children Graham Mitchell and Allison Small.
Picture: Nick Butcher

The family of hit and run victim Brian Mitchell talk about the impact his death has had on the family. Jean Mitchell with her children Graham Mitchell and Allison Small. Picture: Nick Butcher

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An “arrogant and slimy” hit and run driver got out of his car and berated the 86-year-old man he had struck before leaving him for dead, his grieving family have revealed.

Brian Mitchell was knocked down by Graham Brooks on Lowestoft High Street in November last year.

He spent the remainder of his life in hospital before dying two days before Christmas from a bleed on the brain.

Last week Brooks, 60, who has 11 previous driving disqualifications, was jailed for 15 months for his part in the tragedy.

The sentence was hard to take for those Brian left behind - particularly when they heard first-hand the actions of Brooks in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

The family of hit and run victim Brian Mitchell talk about the impact his death has had on the family.
Jean Mitchell with her children Graham Mitchell and Allison Small.
Picture: Nick ButcherThe family of hit and run victim Brian Mitchell talk about the impact his death has had on the family. Jean Mitchell with her children Graham Mitchell and Allison Small. Picture: Nick Butcher

Graham Mitchell, Brian’s son, said: “The next day Dad was quite coherent and he said ‘All I can remember is the car screeching and the guy got out and shouted at me. He was horrible’.

“That’s the reason we feel the sentencing isn’t tough enough - when you look at his previous bans he should have been dealt a harder blow.”

His sister Allison Small has spoken out about the burning anger she felt as she came face-to-face with Brooks in court.

She said: “It was horrible; he was so arrogant and slimy.

The family of hit and run victim Brian Mitchell talk about the impact his death has had on the family.
Jean Mitchell with her children Graham Mitchell and Allison Small.
Picture: Nick ButcherThe family of hit and run victim Brian Mitchell talk about the impact his death has had on the family. Jean Mitchell with her children Graham Mitchell and Allison Small. Picture: Nick Butcher

“The way you feel, it’s an all consuming thing that rises from your toes. All your instincts tell you to lash out but you can’t do that.

“We didn’t know about any of his previous bans until court – it felt like a sucker punch. Not only has he done this but he has a complete disregard for any law.”

Brian’s wife of 65 years, Jean Mitchell, was likewise distressed by the relatively short sentence given to man who left her injured husband.

The 85-year-old said: “I’m disgusted: he’s taken my husband’s life – he’s nothing but a thug.”

Graham Brooks. Picture: Suffolk ConstabularyGraham Brooks. Picture: Suffolk Constabulary

Mr Mitchell said his father’s death had been especially hard for his mother who sometimes forgot he has died – a situation she described as “heartbreaking”.

He said: “Mum can sometimes get confused – we have to tell her nearly every time we see her that Dad isn’t coming home.”

Last week Mrs Mitchell moved out of the home she had shared with her husband for 42 years into sheltered accommodation. The move coincided with the sentencing and signalled the end of a difficult chapter for the family.

Their anguish was constantly intensified by the lengthy process leading to Brooks’ sentence.

For months after the hit and run Brooks denied having any involvement, telling police he had not been at the scene and that damage caused to his car had been caused by another incident.

It was not until March this year the pizza delivery driver pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, providing false information to obtain insurance and failing to stop and report an incident.

For Mrs Small the most traumatic part of the ordeal was seeing her father’s body subjected to medical testing in the weeks immediately after his death. She said: “I never wanted Dad to have to have to post mortem.

“Because Brooks has the right to request a post mortem for weeks we couldn’t see him in the chapel of rest, we couldn’t organise the funeral.

“When I eventually could take mum to see him a month after he died it was not a pretty thing – I just couldn’t stay there, I didn’t recognise him.

“Brooks took the chance of a peaceful image of Dad at death away from me.

“For me he took away Dad’s dignity in life; in hospital he couldn’t even walk, and again he took away his dignity in death.”

Mr Mitchell added: “If he had cooperated with police there may not have been any need. It would have happened a lot quicker.

“Because of his lies he has held up our grieving and held up our closure.

“Why did he not just do the decent thing?”

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