Blyth pensioner caused death of motorcyclist by failing to spot him as he U-turned

John Devine leaving Newcastle Magistrates Court, Newcastle Quayside
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

A motorcyclist was tragically killed when a pensioner failed to spot him or use his indicators as he changed direction.

John Devine, 74, and his wife had been to a garden centre and were going to head to another one in Ponteland but suddenly decided to head to one in Cramlington instead. As they travelled west on Berwick Hill Road, the pensioner decided to turn right across the carriageway into a gravelled area to help perform a U-turn.

However, before turning, he slowed and moved to the left, which caused biker Stuart Graham, who was travelling behind him, to think it was safe to overtake him. As he did so, Devine turned his VW Polo and blameless Mr Graham collided with it, was flung through the air and suffered fatal injuries.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the accident happened on July 18 2022 on the 60mph road. Devine had just left Plantsplus and was initially going to go to Dobbies before he and his wife thought they would go to Azure, in Cramlington, instead.

Around 660m west of Plants Plus, he turned, failing to see 53-year-old Mr Graham, who was riding a white and orange Honda Fireblade with his daytime lights on. A subsequent police investigation found the motorcyclist had done nothing wrong.

John Devine, who admitted causing death by careless driving
John Devine, who admitted causing death by careless driving -Credit:Northumbria Police

Tests on Devine's car showed his indicator lights were not being used at the time of the collision. He stopped at the scene and performed CPR, as did two off-duty paramedics, but nothing could be done to save Mr Graham, who had suffered fatal torso injuries.

Mr Graham's wife, Janet, said in a victim impact statement read to the court: "Nothing can prepare you for that knock on the door, the pain and shock that crushes you as you hear the words."

She said their wedding anniversary was the following day and his death has impacted many people, who never got to say goodbye to him.

His mum, Pamela Graham, said he was a loving and caring son and father and helped care for his dad, who died just seven weeks after he did, having never got over it. She added that he never had the joy of meeting his grandchildren.

Mrs Graham said her son was an experienced motorcyclist who had toured through Europe on his bike and said the fact he was riding a fast machine did not mean he was not a careful and responsible rider.

Devine, of Humford Green, Blyth, never in trouble before, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was sentenced to six months suspended for 18 months with 150 hours unpaid work and a two-year driving ban.

Chris Knox, defending, said there were a number of "very impressive heartfelt references to a thoroughly decent man". He added that it was a momentary lapse of concentration and said even experienced drivers make mistakes.

Mr Knox said: "He is mortified beyond words about what he has done."