Belfast driver Christine Jones who killed biker Richard Carson at Bangor junction weeps as she's spared jail
The family of a motorcyclist killed by a 21-year-old woman driver who was spared a jail term say her sentence seems “very light”.
Richard Carson, a 40-year-old father-of-two from Newtownards, lost his life after his motorcycle was involved in a collision with a Peugeot 206 being driven by Christine Anne Jones on the Crawfordsburn Road in Bangor on July 14, 2013.
Despite saying that she checked three times before turning right into Blackwood Golf Club, Jones — from Kinross Avenue in Belfast — pulled out into the lane Mr Carson was riding in.
Mr Carson, a senior manager for an IT company who was described in court as “an experienced and careful rider”, was thrown from his bike and landed on the road 54 metres from the point of impact. As a result of the collision, his bike caught fire.
Jones — who wept throughout her sentencing at Downpatrick Crown Court — expressed “deep remorse” for causing Mr Carson’s death and the effect it has had on his widow and two children.
She was handed community service and a driving ban.
Speaking after sentence was passed, Mr Carson’s father-in-law Ian Graham said: “We were not expecting a prison sentence, but it seems very light for the loss of a husband and father.”
He said it had been a very stressful time for the whole family.
Mr Carson’s youngest daughter Emma, who was only six when her father was killed, has had difficulty sleeping ever since.
“She hasn’t slept a full night in her own bed without having to be comforted by her mother Nicola,” Mr Graham said.
“Nicola, and their daughters Aimee (12) and Emma (8) have been getting on with their lives — because they have to.”
The late Mr Carson’s father had a heart attack in March this year after he learned that Christine Anne Jones had decided to plead not guilty — though she later changed her plea to guilty.
Mr Carson snr has since recovered.
As well as being ordered to serve 120 hours’ community service, Jones was also banned from driving for two years by Judge Piers Grant, who told her that she had “failed to properly and effectively check the on-coming lane was clear for on-coming vehicles before attempting to turn right” in a maneourve which he said was “recognised as one of the most frequent causes of accidents”.
Jones was also told by the judge: “I am satisfied that your culpability arose from a momentary lapse of concentration.” He added: “It is clear you will carry a considerable burden for the rest of your life.”
The judge said road collisions involving vehicle drivers and motorcyclists — as highlighted in a recent advertising campaign — outlined the importance of drivers being “aware of the presence of motorbikes and their riders” on our roads.
Earlier this week, Crown prosecutor Laura Ivers revealed that Jones was initially charged with causing Mr Carson’s death by dangerous driving — a charge which she denied. However, when Jones was charged with causing death by careless driving, she admitted the offence.
The court heard Mr Carson had “grown up around motorcycles” was an experienced rider.
Jones — who at the time worked part-time in Blackwood Golf Club — had just dropped colleagues off at Bangor train station and was returning to work.
A defence barrister told the family that Jones was fully aware of the impact this has had on them, and that she was “deeply remorseful for that”. The barrister also said Jones was “empathetic in terms of the impact this has had on his widow and children” as well as the wider family circle.
Passing sentence, Judge Grant acknowledged the “irreplaceable loss” to the Carson family following the death of a “good husband, loving father and decent man” — but said that in cases such as these, jailing the driver would not bring the deceased back.