A police employee was killed almost instantly when a Range Rover turned across the road in front of him as he rode home from work on his motorbike.
There was nothing victim Paul Collins, who had been due to attend a family get-together at his home in Bilton, Rugby, could do to avoid the tragic collision.
And at Warwick Crown Court this week, Range Rover driver Anthony Brooker pleaded guilty to causing the 62-year-old’s death on December 22 last year by careless driving.
Brooker, 75, of Ettington, near Stratford, was given a community order with two years supervision and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Alan Parker also ordered Brooker to pay £1,625 costs, banned him from driving for two years and ordered that he should not get his licence back until he has taken a re-test.
In a statement read in court, Lorna Kermode, one of Mr Collins’ two daughters, said: “Since the death of my wonderful dad, life has been a constant struggle.”
She said her parents were “like a team” throughout their marriage, adding: “My sister and I worry about my mum constantly now - she is clearly in pain over the loss of my dad and talks about having a feeling of loneliness.”
Ian Bridge, for Brooker, who is said to be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder since the tragedy, said: “The defendant blames himself for what happened, and by reference to Mr Collins’ speed does not seek to diminish his responsibility.
“The death of Mr Collins has had a devastating effect on his life. It’s not self-pity or the fear of the consequences - it’s the fact that he is preoccupied with a wish to engage with Mr Collins’ family and say how sorry he is for what happened.
“This was a momentary accident. For reasons he can’t explain, he looked but did not see. It was a terrible mistake which has had terrible consequences.”
When he was interviewed in January, Brooker was frank with the police, but could not account for why he had failed to see the motorcyclist.
Judge Parker told Brooker: “Due to your careless driving, a collision occurred which led to Mr Collins’s death.
“He was 62 and had been married for 36 years, and he and Mrs Collins were devoted to each other. He was in good health and his reasonable expectation, and that of his family, was that he had very many years of health, happiness and fulfilment ahead of him.
“No words uttered can possibly do justice to the pain of his family’s grief.
“No sentence can ever even begin to fully express, let alone repair, the permanent feeling of devastation and loss.
“There is no reason to believe Mr Collins did not see the Range Rover, and he was entitled to assume he had been seen and would be afforded the priority to which he was entitled.”
The judge said he accepted Brooker did not see Mr Collins, rather than having seen him and taken a chance.
He added: “Your carelessness arose from momentary inattention.”
PAUL Collins left work on the crime desk at Stratford police station at four that afternoon to ride home on his 650cc Suzuki GSF, the court heard.
It was already starting to go dark, but was fine and clear, and as a regular rider for 12 years Mr Collins, who was expected at a family get-together at him home in Bilton that evening, had his headlight on.
Ahead of him on the A422 Stratford to Banbury road was a car driven by Paige O’Neill, who had no concerns about him overtaking her, although she said he was exceeding the 50mph speed limit because she was doing 50 to 55 at the time.
Coming in the opposite direction as Mr Collins approached Ettington was Brooker who was on his way back to his home at Springfield Farm after collecting his son and his son’s girlfriend from Banbury station, said Mr Bannister.
Brooker slowed as he approached the top of a rise in the road and indicated to make the right turn onto his driveway.
Although there was a Transit ahead of him, that would not have affected his view of oncoming traffic and, satisfied in his mind there was nothing coming, he turned into his driveway.
He pulled across the path of Mr Collins and his motorcycle. There was no time for Mr Collins to react, and there was a collision with the rear nearside of the Range Rover.
He suffered a major traumatic injury which killed him almost instantaneously.