The widow of popular Melton photographer Stuart Payne has talked about her ‘huge relief’ after the man convicted of causing his death in a road crash failed in a bid to claim £1million from her to compensate for the injuries he sustained in the incident.
Margaret Payne was left devastated in July 2014 when her beloved husband of 43 years died from head injuries after the bicycle he was riding on the B6047 Dalby Road was struck from behind by a Kawasaki ZX motorcycle ridden by Mark Gilbert.
Gilbert, who sustained multiple fractures and mental health issues as a result of the crash, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving in a unanimous jury verdict at Leicester Crown Court just over three years later and given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for two years plus a five-year driving ban.
Then in June last year he lost an appeal against his conviction after arguing that an experienced biker should have sat on his trial jury.
Gilbert also made a claim in a civil court hearing for ‘in excess of £860,000’ from Mrs Payne in which he claimed that he could now remember how the crash happened, after previously making statements that he had no clear recolllection of the events as a result of his injuries.
But His Honour Judge Hedley has this month dismissed the claim and said that Gilbert had ‘simply lied’ in a bid to shift the blame on to Mr Payne.
The verdict brings to an end more than five years of trauma for Mrs Payne, who told the Melton Times: “I’m so relieved - it’s a big, big relief.
“It’s been very worrying and stressful.
“I’m so relieved that it is all over and that I have got justice for Stuart in the criminal and the civil courts.”
Mrs Payne paid tribute to her daughter Laura and daughter-in-law Michelle for their support throughout the various legal cases.
She added: “I’ve had to deal with a lot so it is a huge relief after five years of worry and stress that it is finally over.”
Judge Hedley referred back to the accident in a written report on his conclusions commenting that police investigations at the scene found that Mr Gilbert was travelling at an excessive speed - between 62mph and 82mph - and that he failed to see Mr Payne in time.
He dismissed Gilbert’s claim that Mr Payne caused the collision and he said the victim was in no way to blame.
The judge wrote in his summing up: “The unexplained shifting sands of these various accounts lead me to the conclusion that in promoting this Claim as he has and giving evidence to this court, and in attempting to shift the blame for what happened onto Mr Payne, Mr Gilbert has simply lied.
“He has tailored his account to suit what he believed to be his best advantage.”
Gilbert will now be liable for costs for the civil hearing with an interim payment of £40,000 due this month.
Mr Payne, who was 66, had worked for more than 50 years as a photographer in Melton, and covered the weddings of generations of local families.
A heart-breaking statement from Mrs Payne was read out at the August 2017 court trial in which she explained that her husband was ‘my love, my life, my world’ and losing him was ‘like trying to live with half of me missing’.