A 20-YEAR-OLD driver who mowed down a Royal British Legion stalwart on a town centre road has been warned he will go to jail.
Michael Yeates pleaded guilty at a Preston Crown Court hearing to causing the death of Frank Fielding, 80, as he crossed Rishton’s High Street at around 5pm on October 18 last year.
Yeates, of Trent Street, Longridge, has now been told by a judge that he is facing an inevitable prison sentence.
Friends of Mr Fielding said they hoped the jail sentence would go some way to helping the family find closure.
The grandad-of-five was knocked down by Yeates driving a souped-up white Vauxhall Nova at around 47mph through the 30mph zone. Mr Fielding later died in hospital.
Yeates also admitted a second offence of fraud by making a false representation as he had not notified his insurance company of changes to his vehicle, making his policy invalid.
The collision was captured on CCTV but could not be shown to the court as it was too graphic.
Former Hyndburn mayor and close friend of Frank, Paul Barton, said he hoped Yeates pleading guilty would provide some sort of closure for the family.
He said: “Pleading guilty was the right thing for him to do. If you have done something wrong, you might as well admit it. You cannot hide away.
“Both families want closure, but if anything tragic like that happens, it is never the end really.
“If it was my father, I would want answers, so this might go some way to helping them get closure.
“I knew Frank all my life. He was a true gentleman, a gentle giant.
“I just found it so, so tragic the way he died. I feel sorry for both families involved, they will be feeling it too.
“His family miss him and I miss Frank too. He was the people’s champion in Rishton for so many years. He was a cracking fellow.”
Mr Fielding, a long-serving member of the Royal British Legion branch in Rishton, had spent years supporting poppy campaigns.
He served in the Royal Horseguards for 10 years, based in Chelsea and Windsor, and would bear the standard at memorial day.
He also took on the maintenance of the bowling green at Rishton Conservative Club.
Husband of the late Marion, Frank was the much-loved dad of Mandy, Pamela and Mark.
The case has been adjourned to September 18 for sentencing and Yeates was remanded on bail.
He was also given an interim driving ban.
Judge Anthony Russell QC said: “I’m afraid custody is the inevitable consequence of your pleading guilty to this offence.
“The fact you pleaded guilty will undoubtedly be taken into account and will amount to a reduction in that sentence.”