Much-loved father killed in collision with distracted driver

Russell White was killed in a fatal collision in Bradford in December 2013.
Russell White was killed in a fatal collision in Bradford in December 2013.

A “distracted” driver who caused a fatal collision which claimed the life of a much-loved father and grandfather has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Motorcycle enthusiast Russ White, 55, who was married with a young son, was killed nine days before Christmas in 2013 when motorist Sandra Tales pulled out into the path of his motorbike as she tried to make a right-hand turn in the evening rush hour.

Queensbury-born Mr White, who had two adult children from his first marriage, braked hard on his motorbike in a bid to avoid the collision on Canal Road in Bradford, but collided with the Kia Picanto being driven by Tales.

Mum Tales, 51, was originally charged with causing death by dangerous diriving because it was thought that she may have been distracted by using her mobile phone.

But prosecutor Jonathan Sharp told a judge at Bradford Crown Court that the theory did not stand after careful examination and her guilty plea to a lesser offence of causing death by careless driving was accepted.

Mr Sharp said Tales had intended to pick up her son from outside a convenience store, but he was not there and after an exchange of text messages she undertook the right-hand turn “without looking properly to see what was coming in the other direction”.

“As a result she pulled out in front of the motorcyclist who had no opportunity to avoid the subsequent collision,” said Mr Sharp.

“She remained at the scene. She was distraught.”

Judge Durham Hall QC described the victim impact statements he had read from Mr White’s family members as very eloquent, moving and upsetting and Mr Sharp said the deceased had been an important part of many people’s lives and was much loved.

Barrister Stephen Wood, for Tales, said she had always accepted from the time of the incident that she was responsible for the death of Mr White.

He said his client appreciated that the family’s loss was incalculable and that their grief was continuing.

“She accepts with a heavy, heavy heart that she is responsible for causing that,” added Mr Wood.

He said Tales had an unblemished record and a few seconds of distraction had ruined the lives of many people.

Judge Durham Hall said Tales had been worried about her son and that worry had cost Mr White his life, but he stressed that she had stopped using her phone before she started the right-hand turn manoeuvre.

He said Tales had been “significantly distracted” at the time and that could be the only explanation for why she had not seen Mr White on his motorbike.

Taking account of the sentencing guidelines Judge Durham Hall said the maximum sentence Tales could receive was four or five months in prison, but he queried what good that would do.

He decided to suspend the five-month prison term for a year and he also banned Tales, of Friar Court, Bradford, from driving for the next two years.