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Head-teacher admits causing A66 crash which left biker with life-changing injuries

Carlisle Magistrates Court

A West Cumbrian head-teacher has appeared at the North and West Cumbria Magistrates Court in Carlisle charged with driving without due care and attention.

Cheryl Ridgway, 57, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of driving without due care and attention on March 6, she returned to court to be sentenced.

The court was told how she was driving a Mercedes SLK car along the A66 at the Brigham junction heading towards Workington; she was making a right turn at the junction in front of oncoming traffic when she collided with a red Ducati motorbike.

The rider was thrown from his bike onto the bonnet of her car, District Judge Gerald Chalk was told the rider of the bike suffered life-changing injuries and was transferred from the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle to a hospital in Newcastle.

A witness to the accident told police Ridgway pulled out in front of the bike, when someone spoke to the driver to see if she was okay, and then said I’ll see to the rider of the bike, Ridgway said “what bike”, she was in shock and had cuts and bruises.

The court was told the motorcyclist locally known as “Hank” works at the Sellafield site, he will be off work for many-months, he received a number of fractures to his hip, legs and arms and he will need months of rehabilitation. The judge was told he is “lucky to be alive”.

Malcolm Dodds defending said this was a dreadful accident “the bike rider was fortunate to escape with his life”, the weather on that day was “horrendous, it was dark and cloudy and raining very heavily” it was about 7.50am when the collision occurred Ms Ridgway said.

The judge heard about and exceptional hardship statement from Ridgway to keep her licence, she already has 6-points, she explained she moved from Lancashire to be a head-teacher in Cumbria and was leading a “pressurised life” at the moment, she has a home in Lancashire which she cannot sell and one at Little Broughton, Cockermouth, so has two-mortgages plus other expenses, some references were handed into the judge on her behalf, one said they were “astonished as she is normally a very careful driver”.

On passing sentence Judge Chalk said she would have six-penalty points added to her licence, and this made 12-points and passed the disqualification threshold, however there is an exceptional hardship case, if she was banned there would be an impact and that would include third-parties, an impact on the school and her pupils, she was working for the benefit of the community and not having a licence could also effect them, also a close family member is in poor health at the moment, if banned she would not be able to drive to Lancashire and take care her mother.

She was fined £700 with court costs of £85 and a victim’s surcharge of £70.

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