Driver banned after tragedy

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A MAN who caused the death of a father by driving into the path of his motorcycle has avoided jail.

Nicholas Coley, 54, of Victoria Road in Driffield, pleaded guilty to death by careless driving at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court.

Coley’s Volkswagen Polo collided with 46-year-old Michael Cottam’s motorbike at around 7.20pm on September 21 last year.

The tragedy occurred on the A64 at the Claxton junction. Mr Cottam, of Ossett near Wakefield, was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Dawn Birkett, prosecuting, told the court that Coley had pulled into the centre of the road as he prepared to turn right.

He allowed a motorbike driven by Simon McEvoy, a friend of Mr Cottam’s, to pass safely.

However he failed to see Mr Cottam who was travelling behind Mr McEvoy. Coley manoeuvred his car directly into the path of the bike, causing the fatal crash.

Eye-witnesses said the motorcycle had been travelling at no more than 60 mph and Ian Wardell, a passenger in Coley’s car, had seen Mr Cottam’s motorcycle.

After the crash Coley broke down and wept at the scene when the extent of Mr Cottam’s injuries became apparent.

A police traffic officer who investigated the crash said he was unable to find a plausible reason why Coley could not have been able to see Mr Cottam.

A statement was read to the court from Tracy Gregory, who was in a relationship with Mr Cottam.

She spoke of her devastation at her partner’s death, but said she would take no comfort from seeing Coley jailed.

“We had a very close relationship,” she said. “Mick’s death has been utterly devastating and is something that I will never recover from.

“It has had a massive impact on his parents, siblings and children, and will leave a big hole in all of our lives.

“I will miss his positive attitude to life. I know my life will not be as fun or enjoyable.”

Ms Gregory added: “It seems the crash must have been caused by a lapse in concentration. I don’t believe the car driver acted maliciously.

“I have to live with Mick’s death for the rest of my life and the driver will also have to live with his actions. I see no value in a custodial sentence. A community sentence would be more valuable and proportionate.”

Sobia Ahmet, representing Coley, spoke of her client’s remorse at what had happened. “As far as he was aware it was safe,” she said. “Mr Wardell, his passenger, says he saw the motorbike but that he could hardly see it because its lights were dimmed.

“My client offered assistance to his passenger and the motorcyclist at the scene.

“Mr Coley simply did not see the motorcyclist and can’t give any explanation as to why that was the case. It was an error that could have been made by anyone, but it has been made by Mr Coley. He will carry that with him for the rest of his life.”

In a note from Coley, which was read to the court, he said: “My sorrow at what happened is unrelenting. Knowing I can’t alter the outcome is very hard to bear.”

The chairman of the bench, Squadron Leader Donald Graham, told Coley he would be subject to a community order with the requirement that he carries out 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also banned from driving for 12 months and told to pay £85 costs.