Ban and community service for man who 'didn't see' motorcyclist before fatal crash
A father-of-five who caused the death of a motorcyclist was handed a 120-hour community service order yesterday.
Richard Brookes (43) died three days after his Suzuki was involved in a collision with a Ford Focus driven by Eamon Joseph Phillips.
Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard the fatal incident occurred on the main Kilkeel to Newcastle road at 11.45am on Sunday, May 28, 2017.
Phillips, from Carrigenagh Road in Kilkeel, was making a right turn onto Pats Road when his vehicle collided with Mr Brookes. The motorcyclist was thrown from his bike, over the bonnet of the Focus, and landed on a grass verge on the other side of the road.
Crown prosecutor David McDowell said that immediately after striking the Focus the motorbike then struck a Mercedes travelling behind Phillips (57).
Saying that neither man was speeding and that neither vehicle was defective, Mr McDowell said the Crown accepted that, as he was turning right, Phillips simply didn't see Mr Brookes on the bike.
The emergency services were called and, when he was spoken to by police on the roadside in the aftermath of the collision, Phillips said it was "like something had fallen from the sky".
Meanwhile, Mr Brookes was tended to at the scene and provided his name and address. He also handed over his phone and asked them to call his family before he was rushed to hospital.
He sustained serious injuries to his ribcage, kidney and leg. While these injuries were initially not deemed as life-threatening, he developed a blood clot in his neck which moved to his brain and proved fatal. He passed away on May 31.
When arrested and interviewed, Phillips again made the case he didn't see the motorcycle, and said: "If I had seen him, I wouldn't have pulled across."
He subsequently admitted a charge of causing Mr Brookes death by driving without consideration for other road users.
Barrister David McDowell spoke of the "devastating loss" Mr Brookes' death has had on his family, adding the collision was "an error of judgment".
Defence barrister Greg Berry offered condolences and sympathy to Mr Brookes' family and friends on behalf of his client.
Saying that on the morning in question Phillips was heading to his GAA club, Mr Berry said "there was no intention to cause hurt of harm to anybody that day".
The barrister spoke of "momentary inattention" and said it was never the case Phillips saw the motorbike and decided to take a chance, but rather that "he simply didn't see Mr Brookes".
Mr Berry concluded by revealing Phillips has a clear criminal record, has always been in work, is a valued member of the local community and that any remorse expressed has been genuine.
Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr noted the loss caused by Mr Brookes' death, and said: "It is perfectly clear he was someone who was deeply loved and affected in a positive way the people who knew him."
He ordered Phillips to undertake 120 hours community service and banned him from driving for 13 months.