A single mother who faced up to five years in prison after killing a biker in a head-on collision has been released because she is the sole caregiver for four children.
Shayma Ahmed, 36, crashed into Len Royle’s motorcycle after failing to see him when she turned right at a crossroads.
Mr. Royle, 70, a former firefighter and army veteran who was recovering from triple heart bypass surgery, died at the scene despite efforts to resuscitate him.
The British Legion veteran was five days away from his Ruby wedding anniversary.
Ahmed, a care assistant from Gorton in Manchester who helps elderly and vulnerable adults at home, later insisted that the junction was ‘difficult’ and that she did not see Mr Royle until the moment of impact.
She stated that she is the mother of four children, ages eight, nine, sixteen, and seventeen, one of whom is disabled and suffers from ADHD. She also stated that she is a caregiver for her mother, who is disabled and battling cancer. In the accident, she fractured two ribs.
Ahmed admitted causing death by careless driving at Warrington Magistrates Court and was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.
District Judge Jack McGarva said that he was suspending the sentence because of the needs of Ahmed’s family and told her: ‘These cases are always very difficult to deal with, as you cannot put a price on life.
‘There is nothing I can do that can bring Mr Royle back, as much as I want to.
‘This was a momentary lapse, and you simply did not see the deceased. But it would have been obvious to anyone at the junction of the risk and of the need to take extreme care and that is something you did not do.
‘Mr Royle had recovered from a heart operation. He and his family must have thought they had everything to look forward to and a future but he was robbed of that.
‘I accept you have been very upset about what happened and that you have to live with it but you can live with it — he cannot.’
The tragedy occurred on July 26, 2021, when Ahmed was driving her silver Vauxhall Astra along Manchester Road in Wilmslow at 9.35pm.
She was turning right onto Dean Row Road when she collided with Mr Royle’s Indian Scout Bobber motorcycle, which was passing through the intersection legally in the opposite direction.
Christine Royle, the victim’s widow, said in a statement: ‘Len had been poorly and was recovering from a triple heart bypass in April 2021.’ He’d made an incredible recovery and was just getting back on his feet and back on his bike.
‘Then two police officers knocked on my door, bearing the worst news I’d ever received.’ We had been married for nearly 40 years, with our 40th wedding anniversary falling on August 1, 2021.
‘We had lots of things planned including going for a special meal with friends and family. We owned a property in Florida and he had kept a Harley Davidson there. In the past we drove Route 66 from start to finish.’
Mrs Royle said that she will never get over losing her husband, and the pair had been planning for their future together.
‘He has been taken from me and our family far too soon,’ she added.
An expert report said that Mr Royle had only 0.3 seconds to react to the presence of Ahmed’s car. Motorists need at least 0.9 seconds and as much as 1.5 seconds to react to a vehicle they see in front of them.
In mitigation for Ahmed, defence lawyer Greg Kemp said the tragedy arose out of a ‘momentary lapse of attention’.
He said Ahmed had waited for a space between oncoming vehicles before making the turn at what is a difficult junction and she had not seen Mr Royle who was riding a black bike and was wearing dark clothing.
He said that Manchester Road is a 40mph single lane at the junction and claimed Ahmed was conscious of blocking the flow of traffic behind her.
‘It is clear that Miss Ahmed is very remorseful in relation to what took place,’ said Mr Kemp.
‘The difficulty that she has encountered is very simply that she did not see the motorcyclist. If she had seen the motorcyclist it would not have taken place.’
Mr Kemp said that the day after the crash, Ahmed began vomiting, and on a visit to A&E discovered that she had fractured ribs.
She was suffering from insomnia, continued to hear the ‘bang’ from the crash and was fearful to get behind the wheel again.
‘She says she has been palpitating, forgetting things and talking to herself all the time,’ he added. ‘She has been seeking counselling for depression and has had panic attacks. She was unable to drive until April 16 of this year when she started back at work.
‘This case itself is obviously tragic for everybody. We are dealing with a momentary lapse, an honest “I just did not see him”.
‘She has to live with this for the rest of her life — something that she is acutely aware of. We are not dealing with someone who was on the telephone distracted, racing in a rush, or affected by what she had the night before.’
Ahmed was also ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work and was banned from riving for 18 months. She was also made to pay £215 in costs and a victim surcharge.
After the case PC Liz Thompson, of Cheshire Police said: ‘This was a tragic but preventable collision caused by Ms Ahmed’s failure to check that the road was clear.
‘As a result of that failure, a 70-year-old man has lost his life and a devoted wife of 40 years has lost her husband. The family of Len have had their lives totally torn apart and they will never be the same again.
‘Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right, and it comes with great responsibility to act within the rules laid down when you pass your test.’
Mr Royle, who had no children, served as a Lance Bombardier with the Royal Artillery Field Branch in the 1970s before joining Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, according to his online profile.
Before retiring, he assisted in providing fire service training in the Middle East.