Driver of death rider walks free

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A CUSTOMER services worker who helped a pal steal a motorbike on which he later died has been spared jail.

Katie Hutchinson drove Barrie Gale, 21, and Paul Clark, 20, to an area in Sunderland where they knew a valuable Honda Fireblade would be parked.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the men took the bike, which Mr Gale went on to crash and he died from his injuries.

Clark, of Pembroke Road, Sunderland, who had a criminal record, was jailed for six months at an earlier hearing for his part in the tragedy.

Mr Recorder Toby Hedworth said in court he accepted Hutchinson had been “pestered” by the friends to drive them that day last April.

The judge said Hutchinson must have realised both men had been drinking.

But he added: “I am quite satisfied you had no awareness of the seriousness of the consequences that did in fact befall Mr Gale.

“I am mindful that there may be the temptation to look for you to in some way pay a price for the loss of Mr Gale but that is not what the sentencing exercise involves.

“I have to deal with you for the offence with which you are charged.”

The judge sentenced Hutchinson, of Shaftsbury Avenue, Sunderland, to a 12-month community order with 250 hours’ unpaid work and £200 costs.

Stuart Graham, defending, said Hutchinson is hard working and naive.

She has never been in trouble before.

Mr Graham said: “She does not just have to live with the dishonesty conviction but, of course, the other matters, which are fairly obvious, which no doubt dwell on her mind.”

Hutchinson had pleaded guilty to theft.