Woman responsible for death of St Albans motorcyclist sentenced
PUBLISHED: 13:40 22 September 2016 | UPDATED: 13:40 22 September 2016
The driver responsible for killing a motorcyclist near a St Albans gym last year has been given a community order and a driving ban.
Father of eight Brett Cansdale was killed in July 2015 after single mum Katherine Benson, 46, of Oakwood Drive, failed to see him as she went into Nuffield Fitness Centre in St Albans.
St Albans Crown Court heard on Wednesday (21) that Mr Cansdale ‘bounced off’ Benson’s black Ford Focus and landed on the road. He died of his injuries at the scene.
The housing trust marketing officer turned right across the path of Mr Cansdale’s motorcycle and the court heard he had no time to react before colliding with the vehicle.
Judge Andrew Bright QC said: “Mr Cansdale was entirely blameless but paid for your carelessness with his life.
“The consequences of his untimely death have been catastrophic for his partner Lisa Eltogul and the eight children to whom he was a kind and loving father, including a little girl Scarlett in this building but too young to come to court.”
“It’s a tragedy for his mother, brother and other members of his close family who have suffered as a result of his loss.”
The judge said he accepted that Benson’s remorse was “heartfelt and genuine”.
He added: “But it’s easy to understand why Mr Cansdale’s family find little consolation for your remorse when so many lives have been wrecked by your failure to react properly before turning across his path.”
Benson pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was given a 12-month community order with 150 hours unpaid work.
She was also disqualified for the minimum 12 months and will have to take an extended retest before she can drive again. She also has to pay £750 prosecution costs.
Neither driver or motorcyclist were speeding and the bike had its dipped headlamp on.
Benson has a previous conviction for speeding in February 2015.
Prosecutor Ann Evans told the court a driver behind Mr Cansdale, who was on his way to work, described his riding as sensible. He was not overtaking.
The witness, Jade Haywood, saw a car coming in the opposite direction slow down but not stop before turning right into the fitness centre.
“It was obvious to her that the car and the bike were on a collision course,” said the prosecutor. “It looked like the driver didn’t see the bike and just went.”
Mr Cansdale was 10 metres from the car, in the middle of his lane, and couldn’t avoid the car.
Dog walker Michael Watson also saw the collision and afterwards saw and heard Benson sitting on the pavement with her head in her hands, repeatedly saying “I didn’t see him”, the court heard.
Benson told police she wasn’t distracted and her mobile was in her gym bag.
“Just before she reached the entrance she felt a massive bang to the nearside of her car, leapt out and saw a motorcyclist lying on the opposite side of the road. She said the cyclist hadn’t been visible to her before this,” said the prosecutor.
In her impact statement read to the court Lisa Eltogul said Mr Cansdale was her soul mate.
She added: “I didn’t like him riding bikes. I know how dangerous they can be. Unfortunately on the 13 July my worst nightmares were realised.
“Brett had been taken from me and the children. My world literally ended at that point.
“I am told that the driver is remorseful for what has happened but she’s ruined so many lives. I am afraid the word sorry is not enough. She cannot have looked properly and as a result someone’s life has been taken and eight children have lost a father.”
Ms Eltogul and Mr Cansdale have a two-year-old daughter from their relationship of the last few years and seven other children between them.
Mitigating for Benson, James Leonard said: “Nothing is ever going to be the same for the family of the deceased and not a single day since the accident, for the rest of her life, will go by without Mrs Benson thinking of what happened that day.”
She was a marketing officer for a housing trust and also did voluntary work with the elderly in her spare time.