Children sue drunk driver who killed their parents in Dorset's millionaires row


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The Independent Online

The drunk driver who killed a wealthy London couple is being sued for hundreds of thousands of pounds by their children.

Jonathan Knowles, 33, was jailed for seven years for driving his mother's £60,000 Mercedes sports car whilst drunk and hitting Alan and Rochelle Bernard, killing them instantly.

The couple’s children James, 30, Robert, 27 and Natasha, 21 are now suing Knowles for more than £300,000 under the Fatal Accidents Act, according to the Evening Standard.

Papers lodged with the High Court by the Bernard's children cite their parents death as caused by "negligence" and say Knowles was inebriated whilst driving at an excessive speed and failed to lookout properly before hitting Mr and Mrs Bernard.

Solicitor Warren Collins, head of catastrophic injury claims at Simpson Millar, who lodged the writ, said: “These are three young people who have lost both their parents in very tragic circumstances.”

Knowles, the son of an industrial property tycoon, had been drinking at the Cafe Shore restaurant in Sandbanks, Dorset on 11 September, a day after being made bankrupt. The Bernards had dined there on the same evening along with their daughter and her friend.

Bournemouth crown court was told in 2011 that Knowles had built up a small property portfolio which had suffered due to the economic downturn, resulting in his bankruptcy.

Their children left the restaurant at 10pm whilst Mr Bernard, 53 and Mrs Bernard 51, along with Ms Michalowski began walking back to the family home. Witnesses said wheels screeched as Knowles sped off in his vehicle shortly after, weaving up and down the street “ warming up the tyres like a Formula 1 driver”, the court heard.

He then drove his mother's car around the so-called millionaires row in Sandbanks, killing the couple after hitting them whilst driving 60 mph.

Knowles was arrested at scene following the collision, which happened just yards away from Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp’s home.

Ms Michalowski suffered serious injuries but survived.

Knowles was jailed after pleading guilty to two counts of death by dangerous driving and one count of grievous bodily harm, and for failing to provide a breath sample.