DCSIMG

Family’s anger as OAP who caused Easington biker’s death is given curfew

MUCH MISSED: Ronnie Johnson and son Jack.

MUCH MISSED: Ronnie Johnson and son Jack.

A GRIEVING family hit out as the elderly woman who killed motorcyclist Ronnie Johnson walked free from court.

There were shouts of “rot in hell” from the public gallery of Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court as Margaret Kirkbride was given a curfew, and ordered to pay £60 victim surcharge, for causing Mr Johnson’s death by her careless driving.

The 41-year-old biker died after Kirkbride, 84, turned right in front of him in Seaside Lane, Easington.

Speaking after the case, Mr Johnson’s twin, Eileen Dougherty, said: “It is no sentence at all, she’s an 
elderly woman and will be 
in the house anyway at night.

“So £60 is all our Ronnie’s life is worth to the court.

“She’d have got a harsher punishment for pinching from Asda.

“We don’t blame the judge, we understand there are guidelines they have to follow.

“But whoever wrote those can’t have lost someone like we have.

“The sentence is still meant to be a punishment, which this obviously isn’t.”

The family are also disappointed by Kirkbride’s attitude to the proceedings.

“She didn’t turn up twice,” Ms Dougherty added. “There has been no remorse, no apology.

“At the last hearing there was an indication of pleading not guilty.”

Kirkbride, of Burnside, Peterlee, admitted causing death by careless driving and using her 59-reg Micra with a defective tyre, both on October 6, last year.

The court heard Mr Johnson, of Holmhill Gardens, Easington Colliery, was riding at the 30mph speed limit when Kirkbride, who was returning from preparing her church for Harvest Festival, turned right into the B1432 Thorpe Road in front of 
him.

She later told police she had seen the lights of the motorbike, but thought it was far enough away for her to cross the road safely.

Prosecutor Lesley Kirkup said Kirkbride was being treated for deteriorating eyesight at Sunderland Eye Infirmary but had been declared fit to drive at her last check-up a few weeks earlier.

Following arrest, she failed a DVLA eye test and her licence was suspended.

Yvonne Taylor, for Kirkbride, said: “She had a clean licence for 44 years, and in recent times always made a point of asking her eye consultant if she was fit to drive.

“Mrs Kirkbride is sorry for what happened and thinks about it all the time.”

District Judge Kristina Harrison sentenced Kirkbride to a curfew for 18 weeks, 
£60 victim impact surcharge, and a two-year driving 
ban.

The judge said: “Nothing I or the court can do or say can make up for the loss of Ronald.

“It is an utter tragedy for the victim’s family.”

Judge Harrison ordered Kirkbride to re-take her test and have a medical if 
she ever wishes to drive again.

 
 
 

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