Angry scenes as Bonham's head cleared over death

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The Independent Online
Police were called to an Old Bailey court yesterday to quell angry scenes, as a member of the Bonham auction house family was cleared of causing the death of a charity worker by dangerous driving.

A son and daughter of the dead man, Eric Franklin, tried to get into the dock where moments before, Nicholas Bonham, 47, was fined pounds 500 and disqualified for 12 months for careless driving, which he had had admitted. It took six dock guards backed by police officers to escort Bonham to safety.

Franklin died after being struck by a high-powered BMW motorcycle driven by Bonham as he walked across a pedestrian crossing on 7 September last year. Mr Franklin's son, Steve, tried to get into the dock shouting: "You are going to die," after Bonham was sentenced. One of his daughters also attempted to pass dock officers, shouting at Bonham: "Bastards like you don't get justice".

She was helped from court, but lay down at the entrance in hysterics. She shouted: "You killed my Dad and he was our only parent."

Outside the court, Bonham said: "The whole thing has been a tragic accident and I am distraught at what happened.

"I think the result is absolutely right and I am pleased for that. But I am very sad for the Franklin family and I know what they are going through."

Mr Franklin never regained consciousness after the accident in Battersea Park Road, insouth-west London. He died two days later from skull and brain injuries.

Judge Paul Collins had told Bonham, deputy chairman of the Knightsbridge auctioneers: "I cannot attempt to measure the value of life which has been lost by the result of your driving without due care and attention."

He said Bonham's response to the possibility of a pedestrian on the crossing was "quite inadequate". But he took into account Bonham's "excellent character" and the fact he "showed remorse from the moment the impact took place".

Franklin, 59, a retired lorry driver and father of four, had worked voluntarily at a Sue Ryder charity shop.

Timothy Langdale QC, defending, said Bonham had been caused stress by the accident. He had to take sleeping pills and his hair was greyer. Bonham had told the jury that he had not seen Mr Franklin crossing and was travelling at a reasonable speed.