Jarrow woman found guilty over death of motorcyclist in Christmas Day crash on Teesside

Michael Crooks, inset, died when his motorbike collided with a car driven by Susan Gourley. Credit: NCJ Media

A woman has been found guilty of causing the death of a motorcyclist on Christmas Day in 2020.

Michael Crooks, aged 32, died instantly when his Suzuki motorbike collided with a Hyundai I3 on Belasis Avenue in Billingham.

Susan Gourley, 54, denied causing death by careless driving but was found guilty after a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

The court heard how Gourley, of Jarrow in South Tyneside, had failed to stop at the junction onto Belasis Road or make the cursory checks required in the moments before the crash.

Members of the jury were told she had left her workplace at the Quorn factory in Billingham moments earlier and turned right out of Nelson Avenue "across the path of Mr Crook's motorcycle".

In the moments following the crash, the vehicles were left in situ while experts attempted to piece together what had happened. Gourley's dashcams were also seized by investigators from the road policing unit, with the footage played to the jury in court.

During the trial, dog walker Ronald Flanagan told jurors he had known the bike and car were going to collide and had closed his eyes. He added: "I heard a bang. I saw the car and bike debris all over the road."

The court heard how Crooks had been speeding and blood tests taken following his death showed he had traces of cannabis in his system.

However, the prosecution argued that it was the lack of checks made by Gourley before pulling out at the junction that amounted to carelessness.

Gourley will return to Teesside Crown Court on 10 February 2023 for sentencing.

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