A grandmother who ran a red light and killed a father-of-two in her lorry has narrowly avoided jail.
Reckless Caroline French, 47, was behind the wheel of her 20 tonne truck when she crossed a roundabout into the path of motorcyclist Andy Carter, 51.
French had run a red light in the tipper truck and ploughed into the right side of grand-father-of-four Andy who was riding a Kawasaki ZX9R.
Andy, a dad-of-two, was killed instantly in the collision at the roundabout in Plymouth, Devon, on August 8, 2011, a court heard.
French, of South Brent, Devon, admitted causing death by careless driving at Plymouth Crown Court.
But despite French having three previous penalty points for ignoring a red light, a judge spared her prison after hearing she was a “thoroughly decent person.”
She was given a 30-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, disqualified from driving for a year, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and pay #400 costs.
Judge Paul Darlow told her: “You chose to ignore for about five seconds, three seconds amber and two seconds red, what the traffic lights were telling you to do.
“You were simply not paying enough attention to what those lights were telling you before you crossed into the path of the motorcycle.
“No sentence the court can ever pass can adequately reflect the value of the life of the innocent victim.”
Prosecutor David Evans said French was leaving the westbound A38 via the slip lane for Plymouth city centre at the Manadon roundabout at around 3.15pm.
He said Andy, of Plymouth, approached the roundabout from Mannamead Road and stopped at a red light and then continued through a green signal.
Mr Evans said: “It seems simply that she drove through the red lights.”
He added she was travelling an estimated 25mph and tachograph analysis showed she had only “paused” at the junction.
He added she had been given three penalty points in 2009 for driving through a red light, had been driving since she was 17 and had held a HGV licence since 1991.
Defending, Richard Bond, showed the court character references from family, friends and her employer, aggregates company WG Underhill – who have since sacked her.
He said: “They show that apart from the incident she is a thoroughly decent human being.
“Caroline French hopes that the family of the deceased and can now grieve properly for their loss.”
He added she could appreciate the grief suffered by Mr Carter’s family because her father had been killed in an accident with a low loader when she was 17.
Following the verdict the Carter family issued a statement saying: “We feel that the sentencing was as expected, in so much as the law allows.
“The family has mixed feelings because of the previous red light incident.
“Some feel that a custodial sentence should have been imposed. We can grieve properly and move on to remember Andrew as the person he was.”
Sgt Steve Walker added: “This just goes to show that a seemingly minor road traffic offence like going through a red light can have devastating consequences.
“Caroline French is distraught by what has happened here. That’s something she’ll have to live with for the rest of her life.”
Speaking at the time of the death, Andy’s son Jason, 28, said: “He was a dad, a granddad, an uncle, everything. Family was the number one thing in his life.”
Leave a Reply