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2nd Aug, 2021

Businesswoman escapes jail sentence following motorcyclist's death

A BUSINESSWOMAN who was ‘wholly responsible’ for the death of an elderly motorcyclist by turning into his path along the Fosse Way has escaped a custodial sentence.

Susan Dancer had pleaded guilty to causing 75-year-old Timothy Ramsay’s death by careless driving – and was cleared of a more serious charge by doing so by dangerous driving.

And at Coventry Crown Court, 37-year-old Dancer, of Dancers Drive, Loxley, near Warwick, was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for two years.

The charges followed a tragic collision on the Fosse Way at the crossroads junction with Brook Lane and Moreton Morrell Lane in south Warwickshire at 9.45am one morning in August 2018.

Mr Ramsay from Leamington, was riding his Suzuki motorbike when Dancer, driving a Citroen Relay van in the opposite direction, turned right into Moreton Morrell Lane.

Despite him having his headlight on and wearing high-vis clothing, she had not seen Mr Ramsay coming towards her.

”It was a bright sunlit day, and the motorcycle was in view for many seconds.  It would have been visible for over seven seconds,” pointed out prosecutor Andrew Baker.

There was nothing Mr Ramsay, known as Tim, could do to avoid a collision, and he suffered injuries from which he died in hospital later the same day.

Following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Dancer, a statement by Mr Ramsay’s wife Ronda was read out in court, in which she said they had been married for 52 years and had two children.

And she remarked: “My whole world has changed since my husband’s death.  We used to go to Wales four times a year.  I can’t go anymore because it is too upsetting.”

Before being addressed by Dancer’s barrister Sarah Allen, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said: “She has written a letter to the family.  It has been received, but they do not wish to read it.

”They are concerned that your client has taken three years to acknowledge her responsibility.”

Miss Allen said: “No words can be expressed today to take away the pain of the Ramsay family.  She in no way wants to take away anything from the family, because the focus must remain on them at all times.”

But she pointed out that the case began, and continued to trial, as an allegation of causing death by dangerous driving – but Dancer had admitted the charge for which she was to be sentenced in January last year.

”She acknowledged that this was careless driving, and that the bike was there to be seen.  She has never suggested there was any fault by Mr Ramsay.  She simply failed to see him.

There is remorse, and it is genuine remorse.  The feelings of remorse and regret are with her on a daily basis.”

Sentencing Dancer, Judge Lockhart told her: “For three years the family of Mr Ramsay have waited for today.

”The burden of those who kill on the roadway they will carry for their life that they have killed another human being.

“The harm is immeasurable, but I must sentence you for your culpability.

“You set off from your business running an animal feed business with a full load in your van, and you drove out along the Fosse Way.  Coming in the other direction was Tim Ramsay on his motorbike.

“Whatever happened next was none of his fault.  He had his light on and high-vis clothing.

“You approached the Moreton Morrell Lane turn and you slowed. He had been available to see for some considerable period.

“I am prepared to accept he would have been in and out of the shade as you closed on that scene together, but you should have seen him.

“You are wholly responsible for the turning of your vehicle directly into his path.  Your fault arose because you failed to look and look again.

“Even if you had looked at the last moment, you would have stabbed your brakes and this would have been avoided.  Your lapse of attention must have been more than momentary.

“I find this case is serious, and it is close to meeting the custody threshold, but I find myself unable to find that the threshold has been crossed.”

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