84-year-old death crash accused misses court due to ‘stress’

MUCH MISSED: Ronnie Johnson and son Jack.
MUCH MISSED: Ronnie Johnson and son Jack.
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A PENSIONER facing a charge of causing the death of a dad by careless driving failed to attend court because she says she is suffering stress as a result of the collision.

Margaret Kirkbride was due to appear before Peterlee Magistrates’ Court yesterday to face allegations she caused the death of biker Ronald Johnson on Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, on October 6 last year.

The 84-year-old from Burnside, Peterlee, did not attend the hearing, with a letter handed from her doctor stating she was suffering from Post Traumatic Street Syndrome (PTSD) because of the smash and was not fit to attend court.

District Judge Christine Harrison said she wanted to hear about Kirkbride’s condition and when she would be able to attend first- hand from the doctor.

The case was adjourned until Thursday, May 15, for the doctor to give evidence.

Mr Johnson’s family, who attended the hearing, were told by Mrs Harrison: “This situation cannot go on forever and I will end up issuing a warrant for this lady.

“To not attend because of PTSD is not good enough and I want to know when she will be here and when she will be available.

“It will be in her interest to do so because she may feel all of this is hanging over her.”

Mr Johnson, known as Ronnie and originally from Seaham, was riding a motorbike up Seaside Lane towards the A19 when the collision happened at the junction of Thorpe Road.

After the hearing, his brother Alan, 46, who had been riding behind him on another bike, said: “He meant everything to us.

“He was into all sorts, he was into sports and fitness, boxing, and he even joined the French Foreign Legion.”

Mr Johnson also had two sisters, including a twin, and was dad to Jack and had a stepson Daniel with partner Marie Hilder.

The 41-year-old carpet fitter, who worked for AFK in Peterlee, lived in Holmhill Gardens in Easington Colliery.

He had been riding a GSXR 600 when he came off his bike when it was involved in a collision with Kirkbride’s Nissan Micra.

Kirkbride also faces a charge of using the car with a tyre which had a lump, bulge or tear.