Northern Ireland

Richard Brookes death: Kilkeel driver gets community service

Belfast Crown Court
Image caption The case was heard at Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast

A father-of-five who caused the death of a motorcyclist has been given a 120-hour community service order.

Eamon Joseph Phillips, 57, was sentenced on Friday.

Richard Brookes, 43, died in May 2017, three days after his Suzuki motorbike was involved in a collision with a Ford Focus, driven by Philips.

Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard the accident occurred on the Newcastle Road outside Kileel at 11:45 BST on 28 May, 2017.

Phillips, from Carrigenagh Road in Kilkeel, County Down, was making a right turn onto Pats Road when his vehicle collided with Mr Brookes' motorbike.

The collision caused Mr Brookes to be flung from his bike and over the bonnet of the car and he landed on a grass verge on the other side of Pats Road.

No speeding

The court heard that neither man was speeding, and that neither vehicle was defective.

The prosecution accepted that as he was turning right, Phillips simply did not see Mr Brookes on the bike.

When he spoke to police on the roadside in the aftermath of the collision, Phillips said it was "like something had fallen from the sky".

Blood clot

Mr Brookes sustained serious injuries to his ribcage, kidney and leg, and while these injuries were not initially deemed life threatening, he developed a blood clot in his neck, which moved to his brain.

He died three days later.

When he was arrested and interviewed, Phillips said that he did not see the motorcycle, adding: "If I had seen him, I wouldn't have pulled across."

He subsequently admitted a charge of causing Mr Brookes death by driving without consideration for other road users.

'Momentary inattention'

A barrister for Mr Brookes' family spoke of the "devastating loss" they felt, adding the collision was "an error of judgement".

A defence barrister said that on the morning in question, Phillips was heading to his GAA club and "there was no intention to cause hurt or harm to anybody".

The barrister spoke of "momentary inattention" and said it was never the case that Phillips saw the motorbike and decided to take a chance, but rather that "he simply didn't see Mr Brookes".

Phillips was also banned from driving for 13 months.