Published: 15:01, 17 October 2019
| Updated: 12:40, 24 October 2019
A pensioner has been spared a prison sentence following her conviction for killing a motorcyclist whose girlfriend was 20 weeks pregnant at the time of his death.
Patricia Storey, 67, was driving home when she turned into the path of dad-to-be Brett Appleyard, who was thrown into her car after slamming on the brakes of his Yamaha. He died at the scene in Stirling Way, Ramsgate, on October 6, 2017.
Storey denied she had caused the 24-year-old's death by driving carelessly, claiming she did not see the motorcycle, which was travelling at "at least" 40mph in the opposite direction along the 20mph road.
Appleyard also had no licence to ride the bike, and levels of cocaine in his system were 70 times higher than the legal driving limit.
But after a trial at Canterbury Crown Court, Storey was unanimously convicted by a jury of driving carelessly on the night of the tragedy.
The jury was told Storey was turning right into Conyngham Close when Mr Appleyard approached in the opposite direction.
A witness told the court she did not indicate.
In cross-examination, Storey said: “I was looking carefully and I did not see him. That bike was so quick.
“I made my turn into Conyngham Close and heard a bang and that was it. Someone came out and said you have hit someone. It
was a mighty bang and I felt it. I saw him on the floor and I felt terrible.
“I have never been in that situation before and I never want to be in it again.”
Storey claimed she had looked at her speedometer, which showed she was travelling 5mph, before later admitting this was a lie.
“I can’t remember what speed I was doing but it wasn’t fast,” she told the court.
“It could have been 5mph or 8mph, but it was not fast."
Judge Rupert Lowe said he had read statements from Mr Appleyard’s mother and girlfriend about the effect on their lives of his death.
Paul Douglass, prosecuting, said Mr Appleyard and his partner had just seen the 20-week scan of their daughter when the accident happened.
“They were making plans for their house and the baby,” he said.
Judge Lowe told the court: "It is a case where the effects can only be described as tragic.
“This young man had his life before him.
“He was riding a motorcycle. He did not have a licence to ride that motorcycle, he had never passed a motorcycle test and he was exceeding the speed limit, which was 20mph, and he must have been going at least 40mph."
The prosecution told the jury "some impairment of driving ability" would have been expected given what the judge described as the "high dose of cocaine" taken by Mr Appleyard.
Judge Lowe said: “He had recently drunk some alcohol, but this was only half of the legal limit. But he had also taken a significant quantity of cocaine, which put him 70 times above the legal limit for driving.”
"It is a case where the effects can only be described as tragic..." Judge Rupert Lowe
He emphasised that cocaine is an illegal drug so the driving limits are low.
“I must acknowledge he was in breach of the law in a number of respects,” he added, explaining his role is not to apportion blame but to uphold the law.
He told Storey that her carelessness in this case was not looking carefully enough up the road to see Mr Appleyard coming.
“The defendant made a relatively minor mistake which had a devastating effect on Mr Appleyard’s partner, unborn daughter and mother and others whose lives he lit up," he added.
John Fitzgerald, defending, said Storey, who had no previous convictions and a clean licence, was very remorseful.
She was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months and was banned from driving for a year.