Cumbria Crack

Young van driver jailed for causing crash which led to biker losing arm

Carlisle Crown Court

A YOUNG van driver has been jailed for causing a horror smash which led to a motorcyclist suffering life-changing injuries and losing an arm.

Carlisle Crown Court was told today (MON) how Thomas Oliver was driving a Peugeot Partner van which was on the wrong side of the road when it crashed head-on into a Honda motorcycle ridden by Robert Hope at Prospect, near Aspatria, on May 4 in 2018.

Oliver, 23, had tried to overtake an HGV but did not have the time or room to carry out the manoeuvre safely. He was seen to have carried out a number of other risky overtakes moments before the crash, one other motorist having commented: “He’s taking chances.”

Mr Hope suffered life-changing injuries, underwent a number of operations and required extensive rehabilitation. His left arm had to be amputated and he also suffered serious leg injuries and a shattered hip, although surgeons were able to save his left leg.

In court today Mr Hope read a moving statement, saying the crash had cost him his job as a Carlisle-based mechanical engineer, had a “massive impact on my life” and, he revealed: “At one point I thought I was dying on the road side.” He was in hospital for five weeks and required to use a wheelchair for eight months.

“It has impacted me and my family physically, emotionally and financially. I suffer with severe pain every day and will likely continue to do so for the rest of my life.”

Mr Hope, now a charity worker for the Great North Air Ambulance Service, spoke of no longer being able to pursue his hobbies of motorcycling, running and fell walking. He added: “I bear no ill will towards Mr Oliver but I do want him to fully understand the consequences of his actions that day.”

Oliver, of South Newsham Road, Blyth, was sentenced today after admitting a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was said to have been distressed at the scene immediately after the crash, and had swiftly admitted he was at fault. Remorseful Oliver, the sole breadwinner for a young family, had stated: “There is nothing I can say or do to show how deeply sorry I am for what has happened and the injuries that Mr Hope sustained due to my poor behaviour and poor judgement.”

Judge Andrew Jefferies QC jailed Oliver for 16 months and ordered him to serve a two-year driving ban when released and pass an extended re-test.

“Yet again this is one of these sad cases where the victim’s life has changed forever,” said Judge Jefferies, “and the defendant – in this case you, Mr Oliver – other than on this occasion on this day, is a hard-working young man of excellent character.”

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