A MOTORIST’S momentary inattention cost the life of a much-loved husband and father who was riding his motorcycle on a country road, a court heard.

Neil Hamilton was travelling westwards on his 600cc BMW machine on the B6301 Hedleyhill Lane, near Tow Law, County Durham, when he was struck by a Mitsubishi L200 pick-up vehicle turning right in front of him.

The 60-year-old supply teacher, of South Hylton, Sunderland, was thrown into the air and was confirmed dead when paramedics, Great North Air Ambulance personnel and a doctor arrived at the scene a short time later, on Wednesday April 3 last year.

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Mitsubishi driver, Anthony Shelton, 51, of Castle View, Esh Winning, County Durham, was today (Friday April 25) jailed for 16 months at Durham Crown Court after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

David Lamb, prosecuting, said neither driver was speeding and conditions were good at the time of the accident, at about 1pm.

Witnesses described Shelton cutting the corner, turning right from the B6301 heading for a side road leading to East Hedleyhope.

Mr Lamb told the court Shelton said both at the scene and later in interview that he simply, “did not see the bike”, even though Mr Hamilton was 6ft 2in, and quite heavily built, weighing almost 18-stones.

Shelton, who provided a negative breath test, later described his actions as, “a momentary lapse of concentration.”

He agreed he “cut the corner” turning right, but denied trying to “beat the bike”.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Hamilton’s widow, Christine, she spoke of the “devastation” of her and sons Mark, 28, and 25-year-old Christopher, which left them still “traumatised”.

She described her husband, an advanced rider and member of the motorcyclist’s section of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, as, “a most special person to me and everyone who saw him.”

She added: “He was full of an unquenchable zest for life.”

Stephen Duffield, mitigating, said: “Nothing can undo the great wrong that was caused by Mr Shelton’s driving that day.

“He recognises the impact and consequences to his victims, and expresses deep distress, wishing he could trade places with Mr Hamilton.”

Judge Paul Watson, who was presented with several character references on Shelton’s behalf, said: “There was a clear view ahead of the defendant, which makes it slightly more puzzling as to how the collision took place, but it seems his attention was not focused on the road ahead.”

Jailing him, Judge Watson also banned Shelton from driving for two years.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Hamilton said: “The sentence Mr Shelton has received today will hopefully give him time to reflect on the impact that losing my husband Neil has had on me and my sons, as well as our family and the many friends who miss him so much.”