An elderly woman driver who killed a motorcyclist in a head-on crash after she drove on the wrong side of the road when she got LOST has been spared jail.
Tragic dad-of-four Ian Massey, 51, was on his way to a festive family gathering when Jennifer Arnott, 78, ploughed her Rover Mini into his Suzuki bike at 40mph.
A court heard the pensioner had pulled into a gateway to look at a map because she was lost but then accidentally turned back onto the A5 in the wrong direction.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics, popular maintenance engineer Ian Massey, 51, was pronounced dead at the scene in Bittesby, Leics.
Arnott, of Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos., pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mr Massey by driving her Rover Mini dangerously when she appeared at Leicester Crown Court.
But she was spared jail when she was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years on Monday (24/10).
The court heard her driving licence had already been revoked after the fatal smash and she is unlikely to ever drive again.
Sentencing Arnott, Judge Ebraham Mooncey said: “It’s a very tragic case. We are without Mr Massey who, by all accounts, was a very valuable member of society.
“He seemed to be hugely popular with all who met him, with a heart of gold and touched many people’s lives.
“His early departure from this world has had an enormous impact on many people and there’s nothing we can say or do to bring him back.”
The judge said Arnott’s actions were rightly described as a “catastrophic error of judgement”.
He added: “Your remorse is huge and you’ll struggle to live with this for the rest of your days.”
But Judge Mooncey said that with her failing health there was “little to be gained” by sending her to prison where she would “end up in the hospital wing”.
The court heard Mr Massey was on his way to a festive family party on his motorbike when Arnott ploughed into him at 6.15pm on December 29 last year.
Prosecutor Stephen Kemp said the pensioner had spent Christmas with her sister in Northumbria but got lost on the way home.
She pulled into a gateway off the A5 to check directions but turned in the wrong direction when she went back onto the dual carriageway.
Arnott was cut free from the wreckage of her Mini and treated for minor injuries in hospital.
The OAP repeatedly and tearfully expressed concern about whether Mr Massey had suffered and was sectioned due to her mental health for 28 days after the crash.
Mr Kemp said experienced biker Mr Massey had overtaken a lorry and a car in the correct direction before the collision and was riding his Suzuki “perfectly properly”.
The court heard that before he died the granddad-of-five, who had four daughters, had been looking forward to celebrating his silver wedding anniversary in September this year.
His heartbroken wife Sarah, who has fostered 30 children over the years with Mr Massey, sat in the public gallery with other family members.
In an emotional vicitm impact statement, she described the whole family’s “utter devastation” by the loss of their “rock”.
Mrs Massey added: “My husband and soulmate has gone, he was my everything.
“I have the most consuming and gut-wrenching feeling of being robbed.
“As a family we miss him very much, he was our hugger, adviser, helper and cheerer-upper – he was so much to so many people.”
Lloyd Jenkins, defending, said Arnott had an “exemplary” driving history since 1974 and had no previous convictions.
He added: “She worked as an NHS nurse for 45 years and it’s a great irony she saved lives for a living, caring for and nurturing people.
“It was a brief error that’s resulted in this horror.
“She missed her intended route and found herself lost, flustered, disorientated and confused, it was dark.
“The signage was poor where she turned right – with no road markings – and she rejoined the A5 incorrectly.
“She turned right into the fast lane of the carriageway on the wrong side of the road travelling for 0.4 miles at about 40mph.”