Death crash pensioner guilty of careless driving

Tuesday 23 October 2012 Updated: 26/10 09:44

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Buy photos » Victim Paul Collins. (s)

A POLICE employee was killed almost instantly when a Range Rover driven by a pensioner turned across the road in front of him as he rode home from work on his motorbike.

There was nothing victim Paul Collins, who had been due to attend a family get-together at his home in Bilton, Rugby, could do to avoid the tragic collision.

And at Warwick Crown Court Ranger Rover driver Anthony Brooker pleaded guilty to causing Mr Collins’ death on December 22 last year by careless driving.

Brooker, 75, of Springfield Farm, Stratford Road, Ettington, was given a community order with two years supervision and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Alan Parker also ordered Brooker to pay £1,625 costs, banned him from driving for two years and ordered that he should not get his licence back until he has taken a re-test.

Prosecutor Neil Bannister said 62-year-old Mr Collins left work on the crime desk at Stratford police station at 4pm to ride home on his 650cc Suzuki GSF.

It was already starting to go dark, but was fine and clear, and as a regular rider for 12 years Mr Collins had his headlight on.

Mr Collins was riding along the A422 Stratford to Banbury road. Coming in the opposite direction as Mr Collins approached Ettington was Brooker who was on his way back to his home at Springfield Farm after collecting his son and his son’s girlfriend from Banbury station.

Brooker slowed as he approached the top of a rise in the road and indicated to make the right turn onto his driveway.

Although there was a Transit ahead of him, that would not have affected his view of oncoming traffic and, satisfied in his mind there was nothing coming, he turned into his driveway, straight across the path of

Mr Collins' motorcycle.

There was no time for Mr Collins to react, and there was a collision, and he died "almost instantaneously".

Brooker, who said the impact caused both nearside wheels of the Range Rover to lift off the ground, and his son got out, and other drivers also stopped to try to help.

Accident investigator Pc Mark Phillips said Brooker would have had a view for 200 yards down the road as he began to make his right turn – so Mr Collins would have been in view for ten seconds if he had been doing 50mph, and even if he had been doing 80, he would have been visible for six seconds.

When interviewed in January Brooker was frank with the police, but could not account for why he had failed to see the motorcyclist.

In a statement read in court Lorna Kermode, one of Mr Collins’ two daughters, said: “Since the death of my wonderful dad, life has been a constant struggle.”

She said her parents were ‘like a team’ throughout their marriage, adding: “My sister and I worry about my mum constantly now - she is clearly in pain over the loss of my dad and talks about having a feeling of loneliness.”

Ian Bridge, for Brooker, who is said to be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder since the tragedy, said: “The defendant blames himself for what happened."

“The death of Mr Collins has had a devastating effect on his life. It’s not self-pity or the fear of the consequences; it’s the fact that he is preoccupied with a wish to engage with Mr Collins’ family and say how sorry he is for what happened.

“This was a momentary accident. For reasons he can’t explain, he looked but did not see. It was a terrible mistake which has had terrible consequences.”

Judge Parker told Brooker: "Mr Collins was 62 and had been married for 36 years, and he and Mrs Collins were devoted to each-other. He was in good health and his reasonable expectation, and that of his family, was that he had very many years of health, happiness and fulfilment ahead of him.

“No words uttered can possibly do justice to the pain of his family’s grief. No sentence can ever even begin to fully express, let alone repair, the permanent feeling of devastation and loss."

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