Motorcyclists and friends of the victim were upset with the sentence and plan to rally next month in Boston.
A 74-year-old Weymouth man who pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing a motorcyclist was spared a jail term, but had his driver’s license revoked for life, a sentence that has upset several area motorcycle enthusiasts.
John Hanrahan, 74, of Weymouth — a former driving instructor who turned into the path of three oncoming motorcycles in March 2007, killing 34-year-old Brian Mello of Raynham and seriously injuring two other bikers at Route 44 and Interstate 495 — received the sentence Tuesday from Wareham District Court Judge Rosemary B. Minehan.
Minehan heard tearful witness impacts statements from family and friends of Mello, a New Bedford firefighter who lived in Raynham, before sentencing Hanrahan to a year in jail, suspended; three years probation; and 1,500 hours of community service.
Minehan also said she wants Hanrahan to talk to teenagers about the accident.
“Mr. Hanrahan needs to repeat this story and the loss to others,” said Minehan. “People have to hear this story from him ... I do think this story needs to be told.”
However, family and friends were upset with the sentence.
“I would like to see a jail sentence, confined like my son’s confined,” said Mello’s mother, Joyce Mello, who held up pictures of “the little boy who I held in my arms.”
“My dad is gone. It takes my breath away, ” according to a statement from Mello’s 22-year-old daughter, Angela J. Mello, that was read by Deborah Miller, sister of the victim.
“What college graduate would cry at her graduation ceremony? I did,” read Miller.
Mello’s daughter’s statement also mentioned her coming marriage and the traditional father-daughter dance.
A heartbroken Elisa Mello, the victim’s second wife, told the tragic journey from a “fairy tale marriage” to widowhood, since that fateful moment when Hanrahan cut in front of her husband.
Mello said she is in grief counseling, being treated for stress and fears falling asleep because she will dream of her husband.
Many in attendance in the courtroom Tuesday said they were not satisfied with the sentence and said they will rally next month before the House of Representatives, when legislators take up a bill aimed at increasing the penalties for people who hit motorcyclists.
“That bill is designed to fix what went on in there today,” said Irv Evans, the press secretary for the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, the group sponsoring the legislation.
George Andrade, a captain in the Middleboro Fire Department and a friend of Mello, said the lifetime loss of a driver’s license was “some relief.”
“I wished (Hanrahan) turned around and said, ‘I’m sorry’ to (the widow). It would have made a world of difference,” Andrade said.
“In Massachusetts you can kill a dog and get three years, you take a human life and you get probation,” said New Bedford Firefighter Billy Graham.
“The decision stinks,” said Thomas Newhook, 43, of Middleboro, who was one of the motorcyclists injured in the 2007 crash.
Newhook attempted to give an impact statement, but left the stand after a few short sentences.
“I looked him in the eye and I didn’t see any remorse,” he said outside the courtroom. “I think he should have looked us all in the eyes and said ‘I’m sorry.’”
“I don’t think my sister and mother are OK with the decision,” said Wolfgang Decker, 47, of Bridgewater, who also was injured in the crash. “Hopefully, there’s some closure. It’s a good thing he’s not allowed to drive anymore. If it saves another life, this is a good outcome.”
According to reports from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Hanrahan has a long record of driving violations that reach back more than two decades and include violations for speeding, illegal operation, failing to stop and surcharges for accidents.
His record details at least 17 incidents, including a 30-day license suspension for speeding.