‘Salt of the Earth’ pensioner sentenced for motorbike death

Laganside Court Building
Laganside Court Building

A 78-year-old driver who caused a collision resulting in the death of a young motorcyclist has been disqualified from driving until he “passes the appropriate driving test”.

Sean Press, of St James’s Avenue in Belfast was initially charged with causing the death or grievous bodily injury of Jonathan Glenn on the Shore Road, Newtownabbey, by driving without due care and attention.

But after a request was made by Press’s legal team, he pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving, which was accepted by the prosecution.

As well as the disqualification, the pensioner was also fined £750.

Jonathan Glenn, 20, died after being catapulted over Press’s vehicle.

In a statement which was handed to the court, Mr Glenn’s father David said: “There is a void in my life that can never be filled.”

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said the collision occurred on the A2 Shore Road in Newtownabbey at the junction to the entrance of Loughshore Park, on the evening of July 24, 2011.

Press – 75 at the time – and several members of his family, including his great grandson, were travelling in the direction of Carrickfergus, while Mr Glenn was travelling on his motorbike towards Belfast.

Press moved into a filter lane and as he turned right to drive into the park’s entrance, he failed to see Mr Glenn, who had just taken off from a set of nearby traffic lights.

Mrs McKay told Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarlane: “The defendant didn’t see Mr Glenn’s motorbike approach and continued with his manoeuvre, causing an obstruction in the lane of traffic Mr Glenn was travelling in.”

Mr Glenn’s Suzuki impacted with Press’ Ford Fusion, causing the motorcyclist to be thrown in the air and to land in a Carrick-bound lane.

Despite wearing a helmet, Mr Glenn died from his injuries.

The pensioner had told police that he was concentrating more on pedestrians in the area at the time.

Defence barrister John Hunter QC said his client “regretted enormously” the collision and the impact this has had on the young man’s family.

Describing Press as a “man of impeccable character” and “the salt of the Earth”, Mr Hunter said he had been driving for 45 years.

The judge fined Press and banned him from driving until he passed “the appropriate driving text”.