A mum sobbed in the dock as she heard how her fatal lapse of concentration behind the wheel caused the death of a motorcyclist and seriously injured his friend in north Northumberland.
Sharon Corr, 46, had been on a family break in the county when she caused the death of motorcyclist Kevin Parker and seriously injured his friend Ben Scorer, near Beadnell.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how Mr Parker, 55, was probably killed instantly when Corr’s Renault Megane Coupe ploughed straight into his path, on the B1340 on October 25 last year.
Prosecutor Emma Dowling said Corr, of Tyne View, Hebburn, had been on her way from Warkworth to meet her husband and 11-year-old son, who were watching football in a pub in Beadnell, when the tragedy happened.
Travelling in the opposite direction were close friends Mr Parker and Mr Scorer, who had been riding motorcycles together for 15 years.
Ms Dowling said: “Mrs Corr then inexplicably turned right without giving way to the two motorcycles. Witnesses describe Mr Parker applying his brakes immediately.
“Mr Scorer saw Mr Parker’s bike collide forcefully with the vehicle. He then applied the brakes and collided with the rear wheel of Mr Parker’s bike.”
Mr Scorer suffered a dislocated shoulder and felt groggy after the impact, Ms Dowling said.
She added: “He saw his friend was on the ground. He went over to see if he was okay, but he could see immediately that he was very badly injured.
“He’s broken down and his immediate thought was that he was not going to survive.”
A number of witnesses gave statements to the effect that neither motorcyclist was in any way at fault.
Passers-by stopped to help and the emergency services were alerted at 1.38pm. Mr Parker was given first aid at the scene by witnesses before the air ambulance arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene.
Ms Dowling said Corr immediately admitted that her actions were the sole cause of the collision.
“She was clearly very upset,” Ms Dowling said. “She explained as best she could that she was intending to turn right into Beadnell and that she simply hadn’t seen the two motorcyclists. She simply couldn’t afford an explanation as to why she crossed the carriageway when she did.”
Both Mr Scorer and Mr Parker’s widow, Denise, chose to personally read out their victim impact statements in court.
Mr Scorer said: “This incident is by far the worst experience of my life.
“I have only just recovered from the physical injuries, but I think about what has happened from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. It’s constantly in the back of my mind.
“I have a real pain in the pit of my stomach that won’t go away. I will see the death of my friend for the rest of my life.
“As a result, I don’t think I will ride a motorcycle again. I don’t know how long it will take me to recover from this.”
Mrs Parker said: “I don’t want to do this. I need to do this because Kevin is not able to speak for himself.”
Reading from her statement, she said: “The day Kevin died was the start of my worst nightmare.
“My daughter Lindsey and I had to go to the hospital morgue and identify his body. A daughter should not have to see her dad like that.
“He was my soulmate, a loving father and grandfather, who has been taken from us forever.
“We were looking forward to a cruise in January for our 35th wedding anniversary.
“Our daughter is distraught. I don’t feel like I am living anymore. I am just existing. I never knew this sort of pain existed. We have been robbed of a future with a fantastic man and I’ve had everything taken away from me.”
A letter from granddaughter Faith, 13, read: “No words can explain what this has meant to me, I could always put my trust in you.”
Corr pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing before magistrates in Berwick.
Virginia Hayton, mitigating, said: “She doesn’t want to put forward how badly it has affected her, because she doesn’t wish to detract from the grief that she has afflicted on Mr Parker’s family forever.”
However, Ms Hayton said Corr thinks about what happens every day, and although she has gone back to work in a nursery, she has isolated herself from friends as she does not want to be seen to move on.
“The defendant is saying that she never, ever, wants to drive again. She even struggles to be a passenger in a motor vehicle. She doesn’t go out, she is a prisoner in her own home, she doesn’t wear make up and she’s lost a significant amount of weight.”
Ms Hayton said the incident has also had a devastating impact on her own family.
“She contacted her husband, they were on holiday at the time and he was watching football with their 11-year-old son.
“They came to the scene. By coming to the scene, that has affected everybody, in particular her 11-year-old son.
“He is having counselling for this, not only for witnessing the aftermath on the day, but he is afraid what will happen to the family unit as it is.”
Judge Deborah Sherwin said: There is no way this can be described as anything other than a terribly tragic case.
“It is difficult to see how you could have missed Mr Parker and Mr Scorer. This was a mistake that was to cost them dear.
“There is nothing I can say in these circumstances that can begin to compensate Mr Parker’s family for what they have suffered.
“Every day the defendant wishes she could turn the clock back. There is no penalty I can impose that can match any torment she is going through.”
Corr was sentenced to a community order for two years with 250 hours of unpaid work. She was banned from driving for a year.