Elderly man's fading vision cost young motorcyclist his life
AN ELDERLY Tweed Shire man told police he couldn't see an oncoming motorcyclist when he turned in front of him, fatally injuring the young rider when he slammed into the 87-year-old's ute.
But just three months before the horrifying crash, Edwin Jessop was approved to hold an unconditional licence, with an eyesight test indicating he did not require glasses.
Jessop, who has lived in Numinbah in the Tweed Valley hinterland his whole life, was this week handed a nine month suspended jail sentence over the crash which ended the life of Tweed Heads man Dann Jenkins.
The 22-year-old motorcycle rider had been on a group ride with mates on the fateful day of October 24 last year, through the stunning Numinbah Valley on the Queensland-NSW border.
Mr Jenkins was riding slightly ahead of the group on his red and black Suzuki GSXR.
Jessop was driving his Toyota Hilux ute in the opposite direction to the riders, in a northwesterly direction along Numinbah Rd north of Chillingham.
The 87-year-old was planning to turn right into Couchy Creek Rd, where he lived, and put his indicator about 150m before the intersection.
A witness who was driving a car behind Jessop saw the approaching motorcyclist, and watched in horror as Jessop turned into Couchy Creek Rd, directly in front of Mr Jenkins.
Mr Jenkins swerved to the left but was unable to avoid hitting the ute.
He struck the Toyota's passenger door and tray, and was thrown to the roadway. He was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
Richmond Crash Investigation Unit officers noted that from Jessop's position before the crash, there was a 200m field of vision to the west - but after the crash he told police he could not see Mr Jenkins coming.
According to the police statement of facts, Jessop "told a number of people at the scene variously that he did not see (Dann Jenkins) and that he didn't know what happened".
He told police, "I got halfway around and bang".
He told police that his eyesight was "good", and that while he had cataracts taken out he did not require glasses for driving.
According to police facts, Jessop had been approved to hold an unconditional licence without wearing glasses in a NSW Fitness to Drive Medical Assessment completed on July 27 last year by his GP.
But a month after the crash, he participated in a medical assessment which indicated he had "vision or eye disorders" and was required to wear glasses or contacts while driving.
Jessop, now 88, was convicted in Lismore Local Court this week of one count of negligent driving occasioning death.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge.
Magistrate David Heilpern accepted Jessop's remorse over the tragedy and took into account the impact of a full-time custodial sentence on a man of his age.
He sentenced Jessop to nine months' jail, suspended on a Section 12 good behaviour bond, and disqualified him from driving for three years.