Wellingborough motorcyclist jailed for causing death of mum

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A Wellingborough motorcyclist who caused the death of a mother-of-three when they came off his bike when it hit the rear of a slowing car has been jailed.

Shaun Southgate had denied causing the death of Amanda Wilson by riding his Triumph Trophy motorcycle carelessly on the A435 in south Warwickshire in March last year.

But a jury at Warwick Crown Court last month found him guilty by a majority of 11 to one.

And following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, Southgate (45) of Valley Road, Wellingborough, was jailed for 20 months and disqualified for three years in court today (Thursday, October 10).

During the trial prosecutor Gary Short had explained that the charge follows a collision between the Triumph and a Renault Clio at about 9.30pm on March 31.

Both vehicles were travelling south on the A435 at Gorcott Hill towards Mappleborough Green in south Warwickshire at the time when the Clio driver, student Emily Davenport, began to reduce speed as the road narrowed.

She did so ‘perfectly properly’ by lifting her foot gently off the accelerator - so no brake lights came on.

“He saw her, but did not realise she was slowing down. There was ample time and circumstances for him to see she was slowing, but he didn’t,” said Mr Short.

It was pointed out that although it was not suggested Southgate was speeding at that moment, he had covered 60-plus miles from Nottingham, where they had been visiting Ms Wilson’s sister, to that point in 52 minutes.

The motorbike clipped the offside rear wing of the Clio, causing Southgate to lose control, and both he and his passenger came off the machine.

Southgate and Miss Wilson, who was in her 30s and lived in Redditch with her three teenage children, were both seriously injured and were rushed to hospital where she died from her injuries in the early hours of the following morning.

Mr Short pointed out that at the time Southgate was on licence from a three-year sentence imposed at Northampton Crown Court in 2010 for offences including arson after he assaulted his then-partner and set fire to clothes on her canal boat home.

In a statement Ms Wilson’s mother Pauline said she had her husband Frank had always lived in Nottingham until they moved to Skegness when they retired – but have since moved into Ms Wilson’s home in Redditch to look after the children, as she had promised to do as her daughter lay unconscious in hospital.

She said Ms Wilson had loved her job working with the old and terminally-ill adults, many of whom were upset to hear she had been killed, adding: “The emotional impact her death has had on the family has been enormous.”

Toby Long, defending, conceded: “The reality is that the loss of a parent, even after a long life, is something which takes the breath away from a child; the loss of a parent in the prime of life is a tragedy of unbelievable proportion.

Asking the judge to consider suspending the sentence, Mr Long said: “But in my submission what happened on this day, notwithstanding the criminal liability of Mr Southgate, was an accident. It was something which no-one wanted to happen.”

He said although Southgate’s speed prior to the crash was an aggravating feature, he was seriously injured, and as a result of the proceedings ‘there has been a certain prohibition on the grief he felt.’

“That is something which has had a dramatic effect on Shaun Southgate, although it obviously pales into insignificance compared to the grief of others,” he added.

Jailing Southgate, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “On a cold, clear night at the end of March last year you and your partner Amanda Wilson left her sister’s home in Nottingham on your motorbike, returning to Amanda’s house in Redditch.

“As you were travelling along, at a point where the road narrows, you collided with a Renault Clio driven by Miss Davenport, a young university student.

“Both you and Amanda suffered serious injuries, and in Amanda’s case they were so serious that she died in the early hours of the following morning.”

The judge, who had pointed out Southgate had done the journey up to that point at an average of 75mph, and must have been going much faster at times, said: “There is no evidence you were speeding at that time, but you made a serious misjudgement.

“The fact is that for the conditions on that road, you were going too fast and hit her car with devastating results.

“Amanda was a much-loved sister, daughter and mother; she was a kind and caring and loving, and much loved, person. Her death has left her family with a terrible burden of grief.

“I am sure you are very sorry about what has happened, and of course I know you did not go out that evening intending anyone any harm. I know you have struggled with your sense of loss and also with your own very serious injuries.”

Judge de Bertodano added: “Nothing either I or you can do today will take away the pain Amanda’s family suffers, and will suffer for the rest of their lives.

“The sentence I pass is not for a moment intended to put a value on her life. I could not possibly do that, even if I wanted to. Lives cannot be measured in that way.”