Teenage driver who killed dad walks free from court

A teenage van driver who killed a biker following his failure to spot a red light has walked free from court.

Joseph Moffat, 18, smashed into speeding biker Christopher Gage as he tried to turn back the way he’d come when he realised he was in the wrong lane.

Mr Gage, a dad-of-one, was taken to hospital following the smash in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, but died several days later.

Moffat originally pleaded not guilty to causing death by careless driving but later changed his plea to guilty.

However, he was spared jail yesterday, according to the Manchester Evening News, after he was sentenced to 100 hours unpaid work in the community and a 12-month ban from driving.

Addressing Moffat, Judge Mark Savill said the “stark reality” was that Mr Gage “lost his life and he did so as a result of the offences to which you have pleaded guilty. However, he described the circumstances as “very unusual” and said Mr Gage’s actions contributed significantly to the crash.

Minshull Street Crown Court heard how Moffat who had an “impeccable record” and had been driving for 18 months, was near the junction close to Hopwood Hall College on Rochdale Road in September 2020 when he made the “rash decision” to turn in the road.

“He had taken a wrong turn, he was confused as to where he was and he made a rash decision, having not noticed a red light, he only noticed a green light” Mr Tom Gent, defending, told the court.

He said: “On the day in question you were going about your business – a young man with an impeccable driving record. You had taken a wrong turn and decided you had to change your course and you did so. In essence you were driving along the carriageway with two lanes – one side adhering to keeping left and lane two having a right hand turn lane, also governed by traffic lights.

“You were well within the speed limit and lane one lights were showing green. You decided to make a right turn, illegally, having indicated and checked mirrors you then turned right across the gate way of the right turn traffic lights and they were showing red.

“Mr Gage in a grossly excessive speed drove through the red light, illegally overtaking to travel straight on. He lost his life and paid the ultimate price.”

Having watched footage of Mr Gage’s driving before and during the collision Judge Saville concluded: “The actions of the victim contributed significantly to the crash into the van and ultimately his death.”

He told Moffat, who wiped away tears in court: “You are a very impressive young man. Your character and work references show your behaviour towards others is impeccable.”

A statement from the deceased’s brother, read out in court, said: “I bear no ill will to the driver of the van. He has to live with what has happened for the rest of his life and I feel that is more than enough punishment. I do not see any good in him going to custody. I hope he can put this behind him and move on with the rest of his life.”

The Judge praised Mr Gage’s brother for his “remarkable degree of compassion.” Mr Gage’s family released a picture of him after his death and paid tribute to a “loving and caring father of his daughter Imogen.”

Defending, Mr Gent said Moffat was “devastated Mr Gage had lost his life and passed on his heart felt condolences to Mr Gage’s family.”

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