Daily Express – 14th July 2005

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Casualty star Simon MacCorkindale was ordered to pay 5,000 to a cyclist who suffered serious head injuries in a hit-and-run car accident.

MacCorkindale, 53 who plays consultant Harry Harper in the hospital drama was also banned from driving for two months after knocking over cyclist John Lilley.

The actor married to seventies screen beauty Susan George- told magistrates he collided with Mr Lilley after sneezing at the wheel of his Mercedes and losing control.

He left Mr Lilley in a heap by the side if the road with a fractured skull and sped off towards his film studio.

But guilt got the better of him and he gave himself up at a police station in Somerset half an hour later.

Yesterday Mr MacCorkindale pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was banned from driving for two months at Taunton Deane magistrate’s court.

He was also ordered to pay £550 costs as well as compensation to Mr Lilley who suffered a fractured skull, a chipped bone on his right elbow and cuts and bruises on his head and body.

The cyclist was left with headaches, a loss of taste and smell, impaired hearing and back pain, the court heard.

The accident happened earlier this year as MacCorkindale set off from his stud farm in Minehead, Somerset for the journey to the casualty film studios in Bristol.

He was driving near Bishops Lydeard when his wing mirror clipped the handle bars of Mr Lilley’s bike.  Mr Patrick Butler defending told magistrates that it was not clear whether the actor closed his eyes or failed to steer around the cyclist as he sneezed at the crucial moment.

The sneeze was caused by flu-like symptoms brought on by a yoga class, he claimed.

Mr Butler added that MacCorkindale saw his victim move slightly on the road and drove off but felt immediately guilty.

The drag anchor of his conscience began working and he handed himself in later that day at Taunton Deane police station” he told the court.

In a crisis situation he normally leads from the front and deals with it in a cool and calm manner.  He may have been out of sorts.”

MacCorkindale was “terribly ashamed” of his actions, he added.

The court heard that the driving ban means he may be unable to take part in certain scenes for Casualty later this year.

Magistrate chairman Jeremy Walker told him: “I hope that you have now learned your lesson”

MacCorkindale was unavailable for comment after the court hearing.

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