Van driver failed to see keen biker be­fore fa­tal crash

Llanelli Star - - News - Ja­son Evans ja­[email protected]­di­

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.

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