A TAXI driver has been given a community sentence after he pulled out of a side street and killed an elderly pedestrian.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Jean Mpwaba was looking at oncoming traffic when he pulled out of Church Street onto Market Street, Farnworth, and failed to see 84-year-old Fred Whitworth crossing the road on September 5 last year.

Mr Whitworth suffered severe head injuries in the collision and died the next day in hospital.

The Bolton News: Fred WhitworthFred Whitworth

Mpwaba pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was sentenced to a community order for two years during which he will have to undertake 300 hours of unpaid work.

The married father-of-three, who had worked for Metro taxis for five years and never accumulated any penalty points on his licence, was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Judge Graeme Smith told him: "Cases of this type are the most tragic that we see in this court. Firstly and most importantly, because they involve the untimely death of an entirely blameless person.

"Nothing that this court can do or say will even begin to fill the void that his death has caused.

"It is also tragic because you, the defendant, are a hard working family man who makes a significant contribution to your community."

The Bolton News: Jean MpwabaJean Mpwaba

The court heard that Mr Whitworth had been to the Betfred shop on Market Street, where he was said to enjoy an "occasional flutter" and left just before 2pm, heading for the kerb where he waited for a break in the traffic.

Gavin Howie, prosecuting, told how, at the same time, Mpwaba had dropped off a passenger on Market Street and reversed his black Toyota Corolla into Church Street in order to turn the vehicle around.

The Bolton News: Market Street junction with Church StreetMarket Street junction with Church Street

Members of Mr Whitworth's family opted to leave court as CCTV was played which showed the pensioner crossing Market Street diagonally as 47-year-old Mpwaba pulled out of the side street and struck him in the middle of the carriageway. Mr Whitworth was flung from the bonnet into the road.

The court heard that Mpwaba was busy looking left at an oncoming car driver.

Mr Howie said: "He continued to look at him rather than looking ahead. Had he done so he would have seen Mr Whitworth crossing the road."

He added that Mpwaba tested negative for drink and drugs, had not been using a mobile phone and the vehicle was roadworthy.

The court heard how, although aged 84, Mr Whitworth, a former station master at Moses Gate train station, was fit and healthy.

His niece, Susan Harrison, in a victim statement read out in court said: "Fred was a much loved member our close knit family. Losing him has left a huge void in all our lives.

"He was a very independent, fit and healthy 84-year-old who had many more precious years ahead of him.

"He was well known and well liked in the community where he lived for 50 years.

"Fred was one of the kindest, most generous and selfless people you could meet. He was a true gentleman.

"Losing him has been heartbreaking for all his family but losing him in the tragic circumstances that we did has made it more difficult.

"No words can describe what Fred meant to his family and the loss we feel without him. He is and always will be, greatly loved and missed."

Mpwaba, who was described as being actively involved in the church, was supported in court by his wife and pastor.

Anna Chestnutt, defending, told how Mpwaba, of Raikes Road, Bolton, had come to the UK from the Congo 13 years ago and in addition to the three children he and his wife have, also has two adopted children living in the Congo.

"Mr Mpwaba's level of remorse is apparent," said Miss Chestnutt.

"He is genuinely bereft at having taken another human life."

She added that Mpwaba, who has a degree in accountancy and business management, is hoping to get a job in the security industry.

In passing sentence, Judge Smith paid tribute to the dignified manner in which Mr Whitworth's family had conducted themselves in court.

And he told Mpwaba: "I am satisfied that you have shown considerable remorse in a number of different ways and you have never tried to avoid your responsibility for what happened."