Steve Clifford, 59, was with wife Tina Clifford, 47, on a motorcycle ride when Alexander Caldicott ploughed into her and four other riders in July last year.
Tina, riding in formation on her beloved Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster, “bore the brunt” of the collision at Beeley in Derbyshire and died at the scene.
Her killer, Caldicott, was handed a six-month jail term suspended for two years at Derby Crown Court and banned from driving for six months.
The defendant, who admitted causing death by careless driving, was also given a six-month curfew and 300 hours’ unpaid work.
Chesterfield Magistrates Court heard how driver Caldicott hit Tina when he veered onto the wrong side of the road.
Cocaine in his system
Prosecutor Lee Shepherd said a drug swab revealed cocaine in Caldicott’s system however he was not above the prescribed limit - having taken the drug at a party the previous night.
Magistrates were told the defendant, from Matlock, was on his way home at the time - after playing golf in Sheffield and having drunk one pint of lager.
Her “devastated” husband Steve, who walked out of Derby Crown Court halfway through Caldicott’s hearing, said he was “horrified” by the sentence.
‘There was no empathy’
He said: “I feel 100% that they have not thought about Tina at all - there was no empathy for her, nothing.
“When I came out of that court I didn’t want to be punching the air - I didn’t want to see his family suffering.
“But I wanted the judicial system to sort things out for me - and they haven’t. I’ve got no words - I’m so angry at our justice system.”
Mechanic and former miner Steve described how during Caldicott’s sentence the court heard 11 witness statements had been submitted in support of the 28-year-old defendant.
The judge also read out a letter of apology written by Caldicott - despite Steve ignoring previous pleas from the defendant to allow him to apologise.
The dad-of-two said: “Everyone was trying to make him out as a good character - but he has admitted taking drugs. He was that tired from partying and drinking.
“As soon as you get into a car and do something like this it’s not all of a sudden an accident - but he’s not accountable for his actions.
“She (Tina) was treated like a statistic. I’m devastated - it’s been 14 months and the next 14 years are not going to get any better.”
Community of Harley riders
Steve and Tina - both separated from previous partners at the time - met 22 years ago while working in the same office buildings in Clay Cross.
Then the pair - just “very good friends” to begin with - gradually “gelled” and married in 2003.
As time went by Tina - whose first motorcycle was a scooter at the age of 16 - joined the Chesterfield Harley-Davidson chapter Chrome Hill along with Steve.
He told how the couple enjoyed regular ride-outs and weekends away with the “lovely little community” - and 128 Harley riders would later attend her funeral.
Steve said: “She wouldn’t want me to shy away from bikes now - me and Tina met in the bike business.
“You can’t blame bikes - it was a car that killed her.”
‘A lovely woman’
Describing Tina, who leaves behind her two daughters Abbie, 27, and Kelly, 28, and his own two sons Dean, 37, and Lee, 38, Steve said: “She was just a lovely woman.”
Tina was known for her charity work - having done the Sparkle Walk for Ashgate Hospicecare more times than Steve “can remember”.
He said: “She would sit at home sewing and knitting and spinning - just to switch off in the evenings.
“She had no enemies and tried to help everyone”.
Speaking about the future Steve said: “I’ve got lovely friends and family around me but I’ve got no meaning in life now.
“Sometimes it just hits me - when I walk into an empty house it’s just like a nuclear bomb going off. We had a good future and it really hurts.”
This article was originally published in our sister title, the Derbyshire Times
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