Woman given driving ban after causing Christmas Day crash which killed motorcyclist Michael Crooks

Michael Crooks, 32, was killed in the crash on Christmas Day in 2020. Credit: Family handout

A woman has walked away from court with a three-year driving ban following a fatal crash which killed a motorcyclist on Christmas Day.

Susan Gourley was found guilty of causing death by careless driving following a trial in December.

The 54-year-old was driving home from work on Christmas Day 2020 when she was involved in the crash with Michael Crooks, who was riding a Suzuki motorbike.

Mr Crooks, who was described as a loving family man and passionate about motorbikes, died following the incident in Belasis Avenue, Billingham.

Gourley, who had just finished a shift at the nearby Quorn factory, had failed to stop at the junction or make the cursory checks required in the moments before the crash.

Judge Jonathan Carroll described the incident as an "absolute tragedy" during the sentencing at Teesside Crown Court on Friday 10 February.

Susan Gourley, pictured during her trial at Teesside Crown Court in December. Credit: Gazette Media Syndication

Giving her a suspended prison sentence, he said: "It is an absolute and total tragedy. First and foremost it's a tragedy for Michael Crooks.

"He was a man with everything to live for. He was described by his obviously loving family as a family-focused man. He loved his family and being a crucial part of their lives."

The trial had heard Mr Crooks had taken cannabis and had been driving at speeds in excess of 115mph prior to the incident.

However, Judge Carroll said neither of those things had caused the crash to a significant degree.

He told Gourley: "The incident became inevitable from the moment you crossed the give way line having not stopped."

The court heard Gourley, who has no prior convictions, had shown "genuine sorrow and remorse" for the death of Mr Crooks.

She has seen a therapist following the incident, who said in a statement the incident has had a profound impact on her.

Gourley, of Jarrow in South Tyneside, was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She was also banned from driving for three years and will have to pay a victim surcharge.

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