Jury clears Blacko man over Nelson biker’s death on danger road

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A Crown court jury has cleared a driver involved in the death of a motorcyclist in Blacko.

John Kay, of Tower Farm, Gisburn Road, Blacko, was turning into the track leading to his home when his Ford Transit Tipper was in collision with 47-year-old Jeremy White, of Pine Street, Nelson, in the late afternoon of April 23rd last year.

Kay denied causing death by driving without due care and attention in the accident when he appeared at Burnley Crown Court.

The court was told Mr White was travelling from Gisburn towards Barrowford on the A682. After the impact his 1984 Kawsaki Ninja 1100cc bike smashed into a dry stone wall and he was thrown nearly 19 metres across a field before sliding down a slope into the stream. Mr White was air-lifted to hospital but died from multiple injuries hours later.

The accident was witnessed by Mr James Capstick, who had parked his car opposite Kay’s driveway. He said he had neither heard any noise or seen anything when he looked down the road in the Gisburn direction. Mr Capstick said Kay’s vehicle had come from the Barrowford direction. It had slowed down and indicated right, but he did not know whether it was indicating to go round him to go into the farm.

He said he exchanged a look with Kay and then, out of the corner of his eye, saw the bike not very far away. He did not see if it braked, there was a blurr and then a loud bang. “The bike hit the front of the van, hit the wall and the rider was thrown into my field,” he said.

Two drivers also gave evidence. Irene Burton said she was going at 40mph when she was overtaken by a bike that appeared to be going very fast. “I had not seen it in my mirror and did not see it until it was in front of me,” she told the court. Paul Monaghan said he had been passed by a bike near the Moorcock pub. He could not describe the bike or rider, only that it was travelling very fast.

Police accident examiner PC Steven Burgess said there were no skid marks on the road and it was impossible to say one way or the other that Mr White had slowed down. Damage to the bike and the spread of debris, he said, indicated he had not been travelling around 60mph, the speed limit for a bike on that road. The bike had been too badly damaged for him to find out which gear it had been in.

He showed the jury a video of a reconstruction of the few seconds leading up to the accident, both from the motorcylist’s view and how defendant Kay had viewed the scene. PC Burgess said, at 60mph, the bike should have been in view for 11 seconds. Had he been going faster, at 100 mph, he would have only been in view seven seconds. PC Burgess said Kay’s vehicle was travelling very slowly and was indicating right.

“The motorcyclist must have seen the van and should have seen the indicators. His options were limited because of the vehicle parked on the road. He must have been steering towards the nearside at impact,” he said.

Cross-examined by Mr Andrew Nuttall, PC Burgess added: “The motorcyclist would think his carriageway was clear if the van was overtaking the parked car. At the last minute he went to the left, riding into a closing gap.”

Father-of-two Jeremy White, known to friends as Jez, died after a collision on the A683 Gisburn Road, Blacko, on April 23.

Mr White, 47, of Pine Street, Nelson, a building site foreman, had been riding his Kawsaki Ninja 1100cc bike home when the collision happened.

Kay (57) was initially charged by Lancashire Police with causing death by dangerous driving.

But when he appeared before Burnley magistrates, prosecutors withdrew the allegation, and will now proceed with a charge of causing death by driving without due care and attention.

He was said to have been at the wheel of an S-registration Ford Transit tipper vehicle at the time.

No plea has so far been entered, but Kay has elected a jury trial on the careless driving charge.