Van driver failed to see keen biker before fatal crash
A VAN driver killed a keen motorcyclist just two days after the biker had retired from work with plans to travel the world, a court has heard.
Dempsey Lee was at the wheel of an unroadworthy Sprinter van when he hit 62-year-old Trevor Cross on a straight section of the A40 outside Carmarthen.
Swansea Crown Court heard 30-year-old Lee did not see the oncoming biker travelling along the road towards him, and turned right directly across his path.
Mr Cross was fatally injured, and was subsequently buried in his motorbike leathers.
Jim Davies, prosecuting, read details of a victim impact statement from Mr Cross’s bother, Martin, in which he said he learned of his sibling’s death via a late-night knock on the door from a police officer.
He said his brother had acted as carer for their father, who had dementia, and when their dad eventually had to move to a residential home his sibling decided to retire from work and travel. He was only two days into his retirement when he was killed on his beloved Triumph bike.
Mr Cross died on April 8 last year near White Mill on the A40 between Carmarthen and Nantgaredig.
Prosecutor Mr Davies told the court the van the defendant had been driving on the day of the crash was examined and found to be unroadworthy because of a handbrake that was only partially operational and a missing section of exhaust.
While these defects were MoT fails, they did not contribute to the collision.
Lee, of Roman Way, Pontyates, was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving at the trial, but pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.
Charles Row, for Lee, said his client was a devoted family man and father-of-two who had been deeply affected by the crash.
The barrister said his client “constantly questions why he did not see Mr Cross approaching”.
He said the evidence suggested Lee had indicated to turn right, but only at the last moment, and just before he began the manoeuvre.
Mr Row said the vehicle had a valid MoT and was insured at the time of the crash. Judge Keith Thomas said no sentence he could pass could bring Mr Cross back or ease the pain felt by his family.
The judge said he thought it would be wrong to impose immediate imprisonment in a case involving careless driving rather than deliberate criminal behaviour “simply to invoke retribution”, but acknowledged that in such circumstances the family of the victim often leave court feeling an injustice has been done.
Giving Lee credit for his guilty plea, the judge sentenced him to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to do 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.
He disqualified him from driving for three years.