Drunk moped rider knocked down a 78-year-old grandmother before screaming in her face as she died

Judge said Simon Coker had shown 'temerity and cowardice' by fleeing the scene after the incident

Kristy Dawson
Wednesday 16 August 2017 17:27 BST
Coker told police: 'I feel concerned for her, but I don't feel responsible'
Coker told police: 'I feel concerned for her, but I don't feel responsible' (Getty)

A drunk moped driver has been jailed for eight years after mowing down a 78-year-old woman and telling her as she lay dying: "What were you doing walking in the middle of the road?"

Simon Coker ploughed into Helen Doherty on his defective moped last August before fleeing the scene because people "were giving me sh*t".

The 32-year-old was speeding and swerving to avoid speed bumps when he collided with Ms Doherty as she returned from a shopping trip to buy pies for a cancer patient friend.

Eyewitnesses rushed to help and an air ambulance took the pensioner to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where she died the following day.

A judge said Coker had shown "temerity and cowardice" in the aftermath of the tragedy in Colburn, North Yorkshire.

While Ms Doherty, a church volunteer who was known to many as Aunty Helen, was shopping for her friend on a Saturday morning last August, convicted drug dealer Coker was caught on CCTV buying a bottle of wine.

After fleeing the scene, he called police from his home where they found him to be more than three times over the legal alcohol limit for driving.

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe said Coker's attitude to the victim was summed up when he told police: "I feel concerned for her, but I don't feel responsible."

His Lexmoto 125cc moped was put through an MOT test after the crash, and it failed on eight separate elements, including the brakes, steering and tyres.

Despite twice disputing it from the dock, Coker was said to have been riding at 30mph in the traffic-calmed 20mph zone which is near a school and often busy with pedestrians.

Coker, who lived in nearby Richmond and knew the road well, told police: "I just came around the corner and she was there.

"She looked okay when I saw her. A lot of people were giving me sh*t, so I came back here."

Mr Newcombe said the victim – who died a year ago yesterday – suffered a devastating head injury.

The former school dinner lady, who loved line-dancing and exercise, was crossing the road with her bags of shopping when Coker smashed into her at 10.40am.

Mr Newcombe said: "She was semi-conscious and bleeding from a head wound."

But the court heard how the defendant did nothing to assist Helen, and just rode off.

"Further compounding his careless attitude, he has previously lied when applying for insurance, failing to disclose significant previous convictions which included multiple counts of supplying heroin, burglary and unlawful wounding," Mr Newcombe added.

Jacqueline Ross, Ms Doherty's daughter, described her mum as "beautiful" and said the family were "broken" by her death.

She said: "People think we are coping, but we are completely broken."

"I can't describe the unbearable, hollow emptiness I feel every day. I can see the final tear roll from her eye as she died.

"She wasn't just my mum, she was my best friend. Mum was brutally and selfishly taken from us. This I can't bear.

"This has affected all the family and the community because mum was there for everyone, was ready to listen and give a hug.

"Mum did nothing wrong that day. She was just going about her day as usual, helping people.

"Mum always told us to see the good in everyone, but in the case of Simon Coker this is impossible for us to do.

"His total disregard for our mum and the law is unforgivable."

Rod Hunt, defending, told Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC: "There is nothing he could have done had he stayed, but obviously his judgement can be criticised.

"He did put his own wellbeing first. Perhaps judging people by his own standards, he though he might be beaten up and had to flee, but once that fear had gone, he did phone the police to say 'I am the person you need'.

"He knows what he did, as the family say, is unforgivable in a moral sense."

Coker, of Castle Hill, Richmond, North Yorkshire, admitted causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit for alcohol, and making a false statement.

Judge Bourne-Arton told him: "She [Ms Doherty] was a thoroughly decent woman. She was, I am told, nothing but a caring individual. She was 78 when you killed her. She had lead a full life and was still leading a full life.

"The fact you didn't remain at the scene is a deeply aggravating feature, thinking solely of yourself. Not only that, but you had the temerity and cowardice to start suggesting she was at fault.

"She was up and about doing good for others, shopping for a friend who was unwell.

"She was a loving mother and grandmother, obviously well thought of, not only by her family, but the community."

North News and Pictures

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