terrible loss | 

Student nurse who killed motorcyclist and injured passenger in collision avoids jail

Catherine Noble (22) inextricably failed to see Mark Cuthbertson’s motorbike and pulled out into his path

Catherine Noble pictured outside Craigavon Courthouse (Credit: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)

Paul HigginsSunday World

A student nurse who killed a motorcyclist and caused serious injury to his pillion passenger when she pulled out from a junction was handed a combination order today.

Imposing an 18-month probation order along with 100 hours of community service on 22-year-old Catherine Noble, Judge Patrick Lynch KC stressed how “it has been recorded time and time again that no sentence any court can impose will restore a life or bring an appreciable moment of comfort to those who have suffered such a terrible loss or sustained serious injury.”

Friends and family of Mark Cuthbertson and his passenger watched proceedings at Craigavon Crown Court online and heard the judge say that for everyone involved, “it must’ve gone through their minds over and over” what might have happened if either vehicle had been “five or 10 seconds later or earlier.”

The judge said however that tragically, it was Noble’s “momentary inattention” which has resulted in “appalling consequences.”

Noble, from Piney Park in Banbridge and who is studying nursing at university in Glasgow, had earlier admitted causing the death of Mark Cuthbertson and grievous bodily injury to his friend and pillion passenger by driving carelessly on the Ballylesson Road in Lisburn on June 20, 2020.

Prosecuting counsel Ian Tannahill had outlined how it had been a fine, sunny and dry summer day when following her sat nav, Noble approached the junction of the Ballylesson road and the Mill Road.

Unfamiliar with the road, Noble and her friend had been on their way to Let’s Go Hydro, but having stopped at the junction, she pulled her Hyundai forward intending to turn right.

However, the R driver inextricably failed to see the Kawasaki motorbike being driven by 57-year-old civil servant Mr Cuthbertson and pulled out into his path.

Mr Tannahill said the biker tried his best to brake but couldn’t avoid a collision and both he and his pillion passenger were thrown from the motorbike and left lying in the road.

A retired paramedic and a GP came across the scene and they tended to the two victims until an ambulance arrived but the lawyer added that sadly, “Mark Cuthbertson died at the scene.”

Meanwhile his passenger was taken to hospital where she was treated for fractures to her pelvis, her upper arm and a rib as well as deep vein thrombosis and having spent almost a month in hospital, she had to use a wheelchair for a time and is still undergoing physical therapy and emotional counselling.

Noble, he told the court, told her passenger at the scene “I didn’t see him” and during later police interviews, she accepted responsibility, adding that the prosecution accepted there were no aggravating features to an accident which was caused by momentary inattention.

Defence counsel Kevin Magill said Noble, who appeared emotional as she sat in the dock, had expressly instructed him to “unreservedly apologise for the devastation her actions have caused.”

“Every day she wishes she could turn back the clock,” said the barrister, adding that as a student nurse Noble has an added appreciation and insight into the consequences because “she has witnessed first-hand the grief and pain that people experience” in the aftermath of such tragedies.

Sentencing Noble, Judge Lynch said that with a clear view of up to 160 metres to her right, “if the defendant had looked she couldn’t have failed” to see the approaching motorbike.

Her fault lay in her momentary inattention of not looking, concentrating instead on whether she was on the correct road.

“That’s her error, that’s the reasons why we are here today and that the cause of Mr Cuthbertson’s death and the serious injuries to his passenger,” said the judge, adding that the victim impact statements “makes for poignant reading instead.”

Held in high regard by all who knew him, Judge Lynch said the retirement plans of the civil servant and his long-term partner had been “cruelly destroyed by the actions of the defendant.”

In addition to the combination order, Noble was also banned from driving for 18 months.

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