Brigg

Mum of six who caused death of motorcyclist avoids jail

A mother-of-six who caused the death of a motorcyclist when she crossed a junction shortly after pausing a call on her mobile phone was given a suspended jail sentence by a judge.

Donna Wilkinson, 41, had been resting the mobile phone on her knees and using earphones during a 23-second conversation with her son.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Wilkinson paused the call shortly before she turned right at a crossroads in the village of Grasby, near Brigg, in her VW Passat estate.

The former nurse and care worker collided with software engineer Paul White, 58, who was riding his Triumph motorcycle west along the A1084.

White, a grandfather from Scotter, Lincolnshire, suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene of the collision which happened at 3.20pm on March 30 last year.

Billing records showed Wilkinson had made a call to her son at 3.16pm shortly before she left her home which was just a minute from the crash scene.

The records showed Wilkinson then received a 23-second return call from her son at 3.20pm.

During her police interviews Wilkinson “volunteered” that she had been using her mobile phone with earphones whilst it was resting on her knees – but said she paused the call to negotiate the junction of Main Street with the A1084.

One eyewitness described Wilkinson waiting at the crossroads and then pulling forward.

The woman said she heard a “massive explosion” and saw pieces of vehicle flying through the air before Wilkinson got out of her car holding a mobile phone.

Another motorist saw Wilkinson sitting on the grass verge after the crash and heard her repeat “I didn’t see him.”

Wilkinson, of Station Road, Grasby, admitted a charge of causing death by careless driving on March 30, 2018.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, argued Wilkinson’s use of her mobile was an aggravating feature and would have “compromised” the use of her foot pedals.

Mr Scott told the court: “I accept this is not a classic case of a handheld mobile phone, but it was not a hands free phone.

“This was an avoidable distraction, not a grossly avoidable distraction.

“The mobile phone was still switched on, and still on her knee.”

In a victim impact which was read out in court White’s brother, Nigel White, described him as a “modest and much loved man” who was at the centre of their family”.

Mr White added: “He was an old fashioned gentleman, he never had a bad word to say about anyone, and no-one had a bad word to say about him.

“I have lost my brother and my mate, I have lost part of my world, and it can’t be replaced.”

Lisa Hardy, mitigating, said Wilkinson was “devastated” by causing the death of another human being.

The court heard Wilkinson had no previous convictions or endorsements on her driving licence.

Miss Hardy added that Wilkinson had been waiting patiently at the junction.

“She paused the conversation so she could focus on the junction.

“This is a lady who is of previous good character, is 41, and a mother of six, three of whom are still at home.”

Miss Hardy said it was also likely that Wilkinson’s nine-year-old daughter would be taken in to care if she was jailed.

“There is no one else to look after her,” Miss Hardy added.

Before passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst made it plain no sentence could put a value on the life of Paul White.

The judge also explained he was obliged to follow guidelines for defendants with no previous convictions and said that on balance he would pass a suspended sentence.

Judge Hirst told Wilkinson: “In my judgement it is almost inevitable that you will not commit another offence.

“You do have strong personal mitigation, the impact of custody on your family would be serious, particularly for your youngest daughter.”

Wilkinson was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years. She must also obey a nightly curfew for three months and was banned from driving for two and half years.