“THE court has let me down” – these were the words of a grieving widow following the sentencing of the man who killed her husband.
Arthur Burke, 52, of Freshbrook Road, Lancing, pleaded guilty to death by careless driving and driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit at Chichester Crown Court on Thursday (January 26).
Burke, who was riding a large, high-powered motorcycle, knocked down 70-year-old Alan Barber as he was crossing North Street, Worthing, at around 4pm on July 1 last year.
When a blood test was taken following the incident, it was found Burke had 126 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – the legal limit is 80 microgrammes.
Burke was sentenced by Judge William Wood QC to two years and eight months in prison. His widow Christine Barber said she felt this was “inappropriate”. She said: “I have had so much support from my family and the police, but the court has let me down.
“Burke’s inappropriate sentence will never compensate for what he has done to Alan. He took my love away from me and has taken away our future together.”
Sue Lumbard, prosecuting, said Burke had turned into North Street from the Chapel Road roundabout, where he had already had a minor incident with the driver of a LandRover.
Mr Barber had been shopping with his wife Christine in Bath Store when he realised he needed to renew the parking ticket for their car parked in Lidl’s car park across North Street.
Miss Lumbard said the inside lane of North Street was congested, and Burke struck Mr Barber while travelling down the outside lane, after a driver in the inside lane had waved Mr Barber across the road on his way to the car park.
Miss Lumbard continued: “The investigation was unable to determine how fast Mr Burke was driving, but he said after the incident that he thought he was driving at about 40mph – which is still above the 30mph limit for that road.”
Mr Barber, who lived with his wife in North Lane, Portslade, died shortly after the accident as a result of his injuries.
Stephen Shay, defending, said Burke showed remorse immediately. He said: “Mr Burke said immediately afterwards ‘It is all my fault, I killed somebody. I did it.’”
Burke, who was an experienced motorcyclist with no previous incidents, broke down in tears as Judge Wood sentenced him to prison.
The judge said: “The fact is, if the defendant was within the speed limit and had not consumed alcohol this would not have been a fatal accident.
“The most serious punishment is you [Burke] will have to live with the knowledge you caused this tragic death. But this sentence is there to reflect the way in which society sees the consequences of this kind of incident.”