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U-turn cab driver crashed into oncoming motorbike, killing passenger, court told

Jerome Lee denies one count of causing death by careless driving.

A cab driver crashed into an oncoming motorbike, killing the pillion passenger who was thrown a considerable distance from the collision, a court heard.

Jerome Lee, 72, had picked up a family and was dropping them to their home on Farringdon Road, London, at about 8.45pm on February 21, last year.

As he made a U-turn near the junction with Clerkenwell Road, Lee swung into the path of an oncoming, speeding Ducati motorcycle, the Old Bailey was told on Monday.

Rider Shaun Hoffman was thrown to the ground, and he survived.

But his passenger, Claire Berretti, was thrown a “considerable distance” and suffered catastrophic head injuries.

She was pronounced dead at the scene, jurors heard.

Prosecutor Joel Smith said: “At the time that the defendant decided to turn around and perform a U-turn, a red Ducati motorcycle was travelling in the other direction nearby, up the Farringdon Road.”

He added: “The traffic lights at the junction were staggered.

“At the time that the defendant performed the manoeuvre the traffic lights at the junction were showing red to him – southbound traffic, but green to northbound traffic.

“Given what was said by the defendant at the scene, it appears he erroneously assumed that they were showing red in both directions, and that he would be able to conduct a U-turn without running into oncoming traffic.

“He was wrong – the prosecution say he was careless.”

Jurors heard that Hoffman was riding at 40mph, twice the speed limit, and that he was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to speeding.

Lee, from Edgware, north west London, denies one count of causing death by careless driving.

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