Pensioner told not to drive due to failing eyesight jailed after killing cyclist

John Johnstone struck and killed Hanno Garbe while driving without a valid licence

A pensioner told not to drive because of his failing eyesight has been jailed after he hit and killed a cyclist.

John Johnstone, 84, struck rider Hanno Garbe while driving near the Scottish town of Aviemore in March 2019.

The driver, who had been told on multiple occasions that he must not drive because he had cataracts in both his eyes that seriously impacted his vision, has now been jailed for 32 months for causing death by dangerous driving.

According to the BBC, sentencing judge Lord Fairley told Johnstone: “You continued to drive a motor car when it was plainly dangerous for you to do so.”

On March 4 last year Johnstone was driving his Kia car on the B9152 when he hit 57-year-old Garbe from behind, who suffered multiple injuries to his head, chest and pelvis.

Despite being rushed to hospital Mr Garbe, described as a keen cyclist, died from his injuries the following day.

Johnstone appeared before the High Court in Edinburgh via video link last month and admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced at the same court on Monday (July 20).

Defence solicitor Marco Guarino told the court that Johnstone wanted to apologise “most profoundly” to Mr Garbe’s widow and family, and that the crash had a “profound effect upon him.”

Johnstone, who passed his driving test in 1958, in had been told not to drive on two occasions by optometrists before the crash.

Along with the jail sentence Johnstone, a first-time offender, has been banned from driving for five years and four months and will need to sit an extended test if he wishes to drive again.

The court previously heard that after the fatal collision, Johnstone was given a roadside eyesight test by police but he could read a registration plate only at a distance of 4.8 metres, when the required distance is 20m.

He later told police that he did not see Mr Garbe prior to the collision.

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In September 2018, Johnstone had visited an optometrist because he was struggling with his vision when watching television, playing golf or driving.

He was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes and was given an interim ban on holding a driving licence until he had an operation.

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.