A DRIVER who pulled out in front of a motorcyclist and caused him to hit a tree at 60mph has been given a suspended sentence.

Christopher Banke, 72, was found guilty in June of causing the death of Adrian Saunders just north of Beaminster Tunnel on the A3066 on October 10, 2021.

Banke, of Merriott, near Crewkerne, Somerset, had denied one charge of causing death by careless driving.

He was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court today (Thursday, July 27) to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Banke was also banned from driving for a year and must pay £3,500 costs.

The court heard how Banke was travelling in his Landrover Freelander along the west Dorset A-road in a convoy of traffic heading north towards the tunnel on a clear and sunny October afternoon.

Mr Saunders, from Exeter, was a few cars back from Banke on his motorcycle and was on his way back from a visit to West Bay with a friend, who was also riding behind him.

As the line of traffic emerged from the tunnel it 'picked up speed' and about 500 metres north, Banke indicated to overtake the vehicle in front.

However behind him, Mr Saunders had already pulled out to overtake.

Judge Jonathan Fuller told Banke that he 'misjudged' the speed of the motorcycle and the 'distance you had available to safely complete your overtaking manoeuvre'.

This caused Mr Saunders to collide with Banke's Landrover at speed and did 'not have a chance' to avoid the impact.

Judge Fuller addressed Banke: "Adrian Saunders was seen to brake, his mirror and your driver's side window made light contact but sufficient to cause the bike to have to counter steer.

"It clipped the verge, causing the bike to travel along it down the offside and made impact with a tree.

"The speed of impact was around 60mph. Mr Saunders would have died immediately or simply been unaware of what followed."

The court heard that Banke 'did see' Mr Saunders before pulling out but had 'assessed that it was safe to overtake'.

It was the prosecution's case during the trial that 'particular care was required' when pulling off such a move and the motorcyclist was 'almost upon' the Landrover as it pulled out into Mr Saunders' path.

Judge Fuller described the collision as 'momentary' but with 'lasting consequences'.

Banke stopped at the scene to pull the motorcycle off Mr Saunders and perform CPR before the ambulance arrived, with paramedics declaring the biker dead at the scene.

The judge described Mr Saunders as a 'much-loved family man' whose death has 'delivered a devastating blow' to his family.

"These are tragic cases and produce difficult sentencing exercises- different issues and elements all need to be held in balance," Judge Fuller said.

"Whatever the sentence, nothing can undo the hurt that has come about."

Banke was described as a 'decent man' who has led a 'blameless life' with a good previous driving record. 

Catherine Ravenscroft, defending, said that a prison sentence would be 'harmful' to Banke, who has been 'remorseful' since the crash and whose partner 'relies' on him.

Judge Fuller said that 'appropriate punishment can be achieved' by suspending Banke's sentence.