A 97-YEAR OLD war veteran and Oxford University professor who ran a red light and knocked down a nine-year-old child has escaped with a fine.

Tony Honoré, a world-renowned former law professor, had denied a charge of dangerous driving but was found guilty in his absence at Oxford Magistrates' Court on Friday.

The court heard that the nonagenarian was driving his black Peugeot 207 towards the city centre at about 11.55am on February 6 last year when he came to a pelican crossing outside of The Tattooed Hare.

Oxford Mail:

The traffic lights there shifted to red, but Honoré continued driving – seemingly oblivious to the fact that nine-year old Ragnar Cadogan had just stepped out, followed by his mother Jacqueline and two siblings.

Dramatic footage played to the court showed Ragnar flying high into the air, hitting the car bonnet then slipping underneath the wheels.

Honoré, of Banbury Road, Oxford, continued to drive at just under 20mph leaving the prone body of Ragnar in his wake, before eventually coming to a stop.

Miraculously, the court heard, the nine-year-old did not sustain serious injuries and went on to make a full recovery.

When officers later arrived and quizzed Honoré he failed a roadside eyesight test.

Finding him guilty of dangerous driving, District Judge Malcolm Dodds said: "There is no dispute that a red light was clearly displayed and there is no dispute that there are pedestrians crossing on a red light.

"The accident speaks for itself. That is powerful evidence of dangerous driving because how on earth could a reasonable, competent and careful driver travelling down Botley Road not be really obviously aware of a pedestrian crossing, pedestrians on the crossing and the red light?

"This isn't a case of 'oops, oh dear', using the brakes and coming to a stop: he carries on for quite a period of time and what appears to be a state of oblivion as to what is going on.

"That is incredibly powerful evidence to a driver falling well below the standard of what is expected of a careful and competent driver."

Oxford Mail:

Eyewitness accounts from the scene were also read out to the court describing the unfolding carnage after Ragnar was hit.

One passer-by, named as Cary Cook , recalled the seconds before the crash and said: "I realised instantly [the Peugeot] was not slowing down to stop.

"He was not speeding, just driving straight on as if he had not noticed there was a pedestrian crossing.

"I remember seeing [the boy's] legs go up in the air, he landed on the front of the car, the car didn't stop at that point."

The boy's mother Jacqueline said: "He was extremely upset at the time of the accident and thought he was having an extremely bad dream.

"He kept saying 'I want to wake up' – we were both in a state of shock."

The accident closed Botley Road completely while police were at the scene, causing major city-wide gridlock.

After the judgement had been handed down, the court went on to hear of the previous 'exemplary' good character of Honoré who is a well-known Second World War hero and Oxford University professor.

Honoré is also an honorary Q.C.who contributed to the setting up of a new Constitutional Court in South Africa, where he was brought up, in 1995.

He has honorary degrees from the Universities of South Africa, Stellenbosch and Cape Town and has had three books published on his work.

In mitigation his defence counsel said that the incident had been 'the worst thing that happened to him in his life', and had taken a heavy toll.

Judge Dodds added: "He said this was worse than the injury he suffered in the war [during the battle of El Alamein, 1942].

"There aren't many people left who fought in the Second World War and I suspect he is one of the very few survivors of that battle.

"The accident was terribly traumatic for [Ragnar's mother] and the only good thing is that Ragnar suffered miraculously few injuries."

Despite Honoré denying the charge of dangerous driving, after the verdict Ragnar's parents said that 'justice had been done' and said they wished the professor well.

Honoré was fined £750 and must pay court costs of £930 as well as a victim surcharge of £75. He was banned from driving for 12 months.