A 70-YEAR-OLD van driver was banned from driving for four years and given an 18-month community order for causing the death of a motorcyclist when he pulled out in front of him at a junction.

A 70-YEAR-OLD van driver was banned from driving for four years and given an 18-month community order for causing the death of a motorcyclist when he pulled out in front of him at a junction.

Father of two Richard Skinner died after being thrown from his machine after he was involved in an accident with a Volkswagen Transporter van driven by Dennis Allen, at 1.30pm on April 5 last year.

Allen, of Slade Close, Ramsey denied causing death by careless driving but was found guilty by a jury at Peterborough Crown Court in July.

He claimed a sign at the junction of the B1040 and Pidley Sheep Lane had blocked his view of the bike as he was preparing to turn right towards St Ives.

But at the trial, prosecutor Simon Ash said tyre marks left by Allen’s vehicle proved he was creeping out of the junction and trying to edge into a gap between vehicles coming in the other direction.

Defence lawyer, John Kirkpatrick, told the court Allen had been ‘shattered’ by the death of Mr Skinner, but argued prison was not the answer.

he said: “Mr Allen is obviously deeply sorry for the Skinner family. I appreciate, and he does, the devastation that the death of Mr Skinner has caused.

“What the jury found Mr Allen guilty of was a momentary mistake at a very difficult junction where without any doubt part of the road to the right was obscured by a sign. In these circumstances it does not cross the custody threshold.

“He has driven for 40 years with no conviction for any offence other than on one occasion doing 64 in a 60mph zone. He felt he did everything he could in making a safe turn - the jury found otherwise.”

Mr Skinner, 31, of Veasey Close, Hartford, had been travelling on the southbound carriageway of the B1040 towards Somersham.

Allen, who was trying turn right into the B1040 from Pidley Sheep Lane. claimed he had checked to the right and to the left before deciding to pull out into the road.

Allen said he only noticed Mr Skinner when he was 40 metres away from his van and could not prevent the collision from happening.

An initial trial held in April was abandoned after the jury failed to agree on a verdict.

Passing his sentence, Judge Madge said: “The failure to look right again before starting was careless. Nothing I can say today can bring back Mr Skinner or lessen the grief his family will have to endure, and you will have to come to terms with the fact your carelessness killed a young father.

“One view is anyone who kills another person by careless driving should automatically receive an immediate custodial sentence, however it is not the law of England. The law says I must follow the guidelines.”

In a joint statement, Mr Skinner’s father and mother Raymond and Paula said: “Words can’t describe the grief caused to Richard’s family and friends.

“Both of the families concerned and Richard’s friends have been dragged through two court cases to finally reach the correct decision of Mr Allen being found guilty even though he’s been in denial throughout all the proceedings.”

Allen was also ordered to pay £1,000 in prosecution costs, and will have to take an extended driving test at the end of the ban..