Biker received ‘catastrophic’ injuries when hit by woman who failed to stop

Adrian Watson, of Fencehouses, who was badly injured after being knocked off his motorbike
Adrian Watson, of Fencehouses, who was badly injured after being knocked off his motorbike
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A motorcyclist was left with catastrophic injuries after he was knocked from his bike by a careless driver who failed to give way at a junction.

Susan Hill, 35, failed to spot biker Adrian Watson, who was riding north along B1284 in Chilton Moor, when she caused the devastating collision on September 10 last year.

Susan Hill outside Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Susan Hill outside Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Instead of giving way to Mr Watson at the junction with Redburn Row, Hill –whose own husband Trevor Slater was killed in a motorcycle collision back in 2006 – drove her Vauxhall Vivaro van straight into his path, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard.

Mr Watson, 42, was left with two spinal fractures, all but one of the ribs on his right hand side broken, a punctured lung, and a lacerated liver, spleen and kidney.

He spent almost two weeks in hospital and, more than a year on, he is unable to work, has trouble sleeping and is still relying on pain relief for his injuries.

Magistrates said it had been a “tragic case” for both parties.

Susan Hill taking part in an annual bike ride in memory of her husband Trevor who died 6 years ago.

Susan Hill taking part in an annual bike ride in memory of her husband Trevor who died 6 years ago.

Prosecutor Derek Walden said the crash happened at 8.20pm when Hill attempted to turn right onto the B1284, despite the presence of give-way road marking and signs.

“Hill pulled out of the junction onto the main road, directly into Mr Watson’s path and there was a collision with the off-side of her van.

“In his statement, Mr Watson said he was doing around 30mph at the time. That stretch of road is 60mph maximum. There are statements from other road users that he was driving at a fairly slow speed. There is nothing to suggest that Hill was driving at excessive speed.

“During the course of her interview, she stated that she was edging up to the junction.

“She stopped and looked to the right and left, and to the right again. She couldn’t recall seeing anything. She pulled out of the junction and saw the motorcycle when it was too late.”

Mr Walden said there was impact damage and green paint from the motorbike on the side of the van.

Hill, of Corn Mill Drive, Houghton, had previously pleaded not guilty to driving without due care and attention.

However, she changed her plea to guilty on the day of trial. She has a previous conviction for drink-driving, dating back to 2008.

“She has now accepted that her driving has fallen below what would have been expected of a competent driver in the circumstances,” Mr Walden added. “She would have had ample view to see the vehicle come along the main road.”

He added: “Mr Watson did receive quite significant injuries as a result.”

Mr Watson was present in court, having requested to read out his victim statement in person.

“As a result of the collision virtually every rib on my right side was fractured,” he told magistrates. “I had a punctured right lung, liver, spleen and fluid around my kidney. I had a large chunk out of my right knee and a fractured spine in two places.

“Due to the severity of the injuries my recovery is still ongoing. I take Tramadol and paracetamol, but the pain never fully goes, even with the medication I have a permanent ache in my shoulder, neck and back.

“I can’t sleep for a full night, which leaves me feeling very tired all the time. I’m also suffering amnesia which I didn’t before the collision.

“I don’t know whether this is down to being so tired. If I roll over to my side I have to stretch my arms over my head and feel a click.

“I still suffer with flashbacks, sometimes twice a week, sometimes fortnightly. I wake up panicking and sweating.

“I still ride motorcycles, but I can’t ride as far or for as long due to the pain. I am very wary, especially around junctions. I brake if I see a car, even if I have right of way, thinking they are going to pull out on me.

“I only hope she’s learned to be more careful around junctions and motorbikes.

“The bike was a showpiece I had been working on for two years. It was intended to help me launch a business. I’ve been unable to do that, due to the manual work, but I hope to be able to go back into business doing the same thing.

“Awaiting these proceedings I’ve not recovered any losses for damages or anything. I’ve been left out of pocket by quite a lot.”

Paul McAlindon, defending Hill, said the incident had brought back painful memories for her.

“She would consider herself to be very motorcycle-aware for a very good reason, because, in 2006, her husband was killed in a motorcycle collision. He came off his motorcycle and was killed instantly. This has clearly brought back very bad memories of that.

“Miss Hill is at a junction. She has to give way. She told police she looked right, left and right again.

“She’s not got far into the junction and he has hit the driver’s door. Mr Watson clearly had right of way.

“She is sorry to Mr Watson and has asked me to say that.”

Hill was fined £234, with £100 costs and £23 victim surcharge. She was also given six points on her licence.

Bench chairman Doris MacKnight said: “In some ways we are sorry for everyone involved in this.

“It’s been a tragic case for both of you.”