Man's momentary lapse caused death of cyclist

First published in News The Northern Echo: Static HTML image by , Chief Reporter (Durham)

AN unlicensed motorist whose careless driving caused the death of a cyclist walked free from court yesterday.

Denis Moore’s “momentary inattention” at the wheel of his partner’s Hyundai Matrix mobility car led to it clipping the back of James Jorgensen’s bicycle as both negotiated a roundabout in Seaham, County Durham, on September 24, last year.

Mr Jorgensen, 55, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown from the cycle and suffered head injuries, from which he died in hospital 12 days later.

Durham Crown Court heard the accident took place at the junction of North Road and Stoneycroft Way, near Mr Jorgensen’s home in East Shore Village.

Fifty-year-old Moore, of Byron Terrace, Houghton-le- Spring, Wearside, who has no previous convictions, admitted causing Mr Jorgensen’s death by careless driving and driving other than in accordance with the licence.

The court heard he has been a provisional licence holder for eight years, but no L plates were displayed on the car.

Lesley Kirkup, prosecuting, said witnesses estimated it was travelling at between 15 and 20mph.

Ron Mitchell, for Moore, told the court: “He wasn’t going too fast, the car brakes were okay, he wasn’t drunk, and the only explanation is momentary inattention.”

Mr Mitchell said that following the accident Moore attempted suicide, spent time in a psychiatric hospital and gave up his job.

“But the effect pales into insignificance as to what happened to Mr Jorgensen and the pain his family must be feeling,”

added Mr Mitchell.

Judge Richard Lowden said: “No sentence I can pass can equate in any way with the worth of Mr Jorgensen’s life.”

But he added that, “an unattractive”

feature for the bereaved family was the fact Mr Jorgensen was not wearing a helmet.

Judge Lowden said it was the first case of causing death by careless driving at the court.

The charge, a stop-gap between careless driving and causing death by dangerous driving, was introduced under the 2006 Road Safety Act.

It only came into effect last August, a month before the tragedy.

Moore was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for a year during which he must undergo probation supervision.

He will also be subject to a three-month electronicallytagged home curfew, from 8pm to 7am, and was given a twoyear driving ban.

■ Moore’s partner, Janice Bell, 41, a front seat passenger at the time of the accident, admitted permitting an unlicensed person to drive the car and was recently fined £108 with £43 costs by North Durham magistrates.

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