St Austell man Neil Burton escapes jail after causing the death of Liskeard motorcyclist Terry Bettison
A MAN who caused the death of a 72-year-old Liskeard motorcyclist by careless driving has escaped jail.
On September 6 last year, Liskeard pensioner Terry Bettison was killed after his motorcycle collided with a car and a lorry in a six-vehicle crash on the A38 Glynn Valley near Bodmin.
Neil Burton, of Tregorrick View, St Austell, originally pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. But on Wednesday, November 13 at Truro Crown Court, Burton entered a guilty plea for the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Sparing the 37-year-old jail, Judge John Neligan handed Burton a 12-month community order.
He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service.
Philip Lee, for the prosecution, said the lesser charge was accepted following full consultation with Mr Bettison's family.
He added: "This was a case in which the defendant's fault lay in a relatively brief, but serious, misjudgement or lack of concentration, rather than a prolonged course of bad driving and we felt the sentence likely to be imposed for this charge would be appropriate.
"Our thoughts are with Mr Bettison's family.
"While nothing will ever compensate them for their loss, I hope that the conclusion of this case will bring them a degree of closure."
Following the sentencing, Burton described his plea as a "tactical decision".
He said since the crash his life has been turned upside down and he pleaded guilty for his family family's sake.
He said: "The past 14 months have been hell. It has nearly pulled us apart."
The father said he was now concentrating on moving on with his life.
Mr Bettison, a former BT engineer, was a keen biker who had 14 bikes and enjoyed attending motorcycle shows.
His neighbours and friends of 17 years, Ann and Nick Truckle, said he died doing what he loved.
Mr Truckle said: "It was the best way for him to go, on the bike that he loved. He died doing something that brought him huge enjoyment throughout his life."
Mrs Truckle added: "We were totally shocked. It was a normal day that turned into something unbelievable."
Mr Bettison's wife Edna died 18 months before the crash. Together they have one son, who now lives in France.
Steve Sharp, 44, who had known Mr Bettison for 15 years, said he was a very caring and thoughtful man.
"He was the best neighbour we could have asked for," he said.
"If we needed anything, he was always there."