Family 'robbed' of father, husband and grandad after fatal crash

Noel Bassam, 35, appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court after being charged with causing death by careless driving.

Noel Bassam has been sentenced after admitting causing death by careless driving - Credit: Peter Walsh, Archant Norfolk

A man who had been "living life to the full" was robbed from his family after his motorbike was struck by a van driver who pulled out in his path.

Peter Charlebois, 67, died after his Harley Davidson bike was involved in a crash with a Ford van on the B1113 New Buckenham Road near Banham, in south Norfolk.

The van driver Noel Bassam, 36, of  Orchard Way, Banham appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Friday (July 15) having previously admitted causing death by careless driving.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said Mr Charlebois had been "living life to the full" at the time when he was riding his motorbike towards New Buckenham at just after 1.30pm on June 20, 2020.

At the same time Bassam was on the road looking to make a right turn towards Overcross and pulled out of the junction resulting in a crash.

Mr Youell said "tragically" Mr Charlebois was unable to avoid a collision and was pronounced dead at the scene after he sustained fatal injuries.

A police collision investigation report concluded Mr Charlebois was "there to be seen" but Bassam had "left insufficient time for him to complete the manoeuvre".

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Mr Youell, who described it as being "more than momentary inattention", said: "The defendant accepts in making that turn before taking account of that motorcyclist his driving fell below the standard of a competent driver at the time."

Bassam, who had not been speeding or drinking at the time of the crash, was interviewed by police and said he saw the motorcyclist "at the last minute".

He said he would have stopped had he have seen the victim.

Before Bassam was sentenced, moving statements were read from the family of Mr Charlebois, who was a professional musician born in Montreal, Canada, but later went to live in Roydon Fen, Roydon, near Diss.

His son said his father had been "stolen" and was struggling with how his "beautiful" father had been taken by such a "careless and selfish act".

He said his father was a "man of integrity and passion".

Mr Charlebois' wife said she never got to say goodbye, like he never got to see her cry.

She said she cried for him "every day" and "never knew it possible to feel such grief".

One of his daughters said that to put into words what the loss of her father has meant was "impossible" and said the "world stopped turning and span out of control at the same time".

Another daughter said: "The world lost a bright star and I lost the world's best dad" adding that her children have been "robbed of an amazing grandad".

But she said her dad "would forgive you" and so too would she.

New Buckenham Road, near Banham. Picture: Archant

Peter Charlebois was killed following a fatal crash near Banham in June 2020 - Credit: Archant

Judge Anthony Bate said quite why Bassam drove right into the path of the victim's motorcycle was "to this day unknown".

He said that Bassam's "momentary inattention" meant Mr Charlebois' family had lost a "very much-loved father, husband, grandfather and friend".

But in taking into account Bassam's positive good character and credit for plea, he imposed a two-year community order.

Bassam was also ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work and 25 days of Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR). He was also banned from driving for 18 months.

Paul Rogers, mitigating, said the only thing his client could do was apologise.

He said: "He can't change what happened but if he could he would."

Mr Rogers added that he must carry the responsibility of what he has done for "the rest of his life".

He said Bassam has since been diagnosed with autism.

Mr Charlebois' family did not want to comment after sentence, but released a statement which said: "Peter Charlebois AKA Charlie Harper, talented musician who sang and played the harmonica in local band, Harper AKA.

"He was born in Montreal and moved to Diss with his wife and three children in 1989, later moving to Roydon Fen, Roydon in January 2020.

"Charlie had a son called Jesse and two daughters, Keelia and Loriann.

"He also had three granddaughters: Luna, nine, Yva, seven and Ren, four."