Belgian motorcyclist banned and fined for careless driving

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A tourist who recently visited Lochaber on a motorcycle holiday has been found guilty of careless driving after a head-on collision with a car near Glencoe earlier this year.

Peter van Gerven, 55, from Schoten in Belgium, appeared at Fort William Sheriff Court last week on a charge of reckless and dangerous driving after his BMW motorbike collided head on with a car on the B863 at Callart Boat House near Glencoe village on June 13, 2018, causing injury to himself, his passenger and the driver of the other car.

However, Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald found van Gerven guilty of the lesser charge of careless driving.

The court heard that van Gerven was on a motorcyle trip in the area with his partner Frieda Daneel, who was a passenger on the back of his bike at the time of the incident.

Chetna Grimshaw, 36, the driver of the car involved in the crash, gave evidence at the court as a witness. She said she was driving along the B863 with her one-year-old son in the back seat when she saw a motorcycle driving towards her on the wrong side of the road at a bend. She said she braked but there was little time to react to prevent the collision and the motorbike hit the front of her car. Ms Grimshaw has since been receiving physiotherapy for her injuries.

The court also heard that van Gerven’s passenger, Ms Daneel, also sustained injuries to her leg. She was flown back to Belgium for treatment and was only released from hospital two months ago.

Appearing at court with an interpreter, van Gerven admitted that he had driven on the wrong side of the road for around 50 metres and accepted that the accident was his fault. He said that he had turned his motorbike further along the road and was picking up speed on his way back to Glencoe for 10 to 15 seconds before the collision happened.

When asked how he felt about the incident, van Gerven said: ‘Horror’.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Matthew Kerr said: ‘The manner of the accused’s driving falls well below that of a careful and competent driver by the virtue that he has driven on the wrong side of the road.’

In mitigation, defence solicitor Hamish Melrose asked the Sheriff to consider the short distance that van Gerven travelled on the wrong side of the road as well as the lack of road signage and faint road markings at the location.

However, while Sheriff MacDonald said the evidence had not met the conditions for dangerous driving, she still found van Gerven guilty of careless driving and disqualified him for driving for seven months in the UK  and fined him £560.