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Thread: Fatal accident trial

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Fatal accident trial

    Witness tells Wick Sheriff Court of motorbike approaching and then heard what he described as "an almighty bang"

    A WICK man told of his shock when confronted by a crash scene near a Caithness village after he heard a motorbike approach, at speed and then "an almighty bang".
    James Tait described how he found a van lying across the road, near Borrowston, south of Thrumster village, on the A99, and the bike lying "wrecked" close by.
    Mr Tait, a 28-year-old fabricator, from Wick, was giving evidence in the trial of gas fitter, Anthony Palmer, 57, who denies, on indictment, driving carelessly and causing the death of the biker, offshore worker, Brent Larnoch, of Mid-Clyth, by not keeping a proper lookout and turning his transit van into his path. Palmer claimed that the motorbike was travelling at well over the speed limit.
    Wick Sheriff Court heard that the accident occurred on a sunny Spring day, on April 28, last year, on a straight stretch of the A99 just north of Borrowston Quarry.
    Mr Tait was working on repairs to a Poly tunnel at his father's home at Borrowston Croft. He told the court that he heard the motorbike approach "from a fair distance away" changing gear and accelerating. He could not put a figure on its speed but, as someone with first-hand experience of motorbikes, was of the opinion it was travelling above the speed limit of 60mph.
    Mr Tait told the court: "As it approached, it changed gear and I heard the throttle...the bike accelerate... and then, an almighty bang."
    He said that his initial thought was that the biker had come off the machine, a little further south, at the Borrowston bend, but discovered that was not the case after jumping in his van and driving a short to the crash scene.
    Mr Tait went on to describe his shock. He said that the van was lying across the road on its own side pointing towards an access road to a house. The motorbike was lying behind the vehicle, "a fair mess, with pieces of it spread all over the place...a complete wreck".
    He continued that the driver of the red van, whom he identified as the accused, was just getting out of the driver's side and making his way round to the back of the vehicle.
    Mr Tait said: "He was confused and shocked. I don't think he realised what had actually happened. I could not see any sign of breathing or consciousness from the bike rider who was lying face down near the passenger side of the van."
    Helen Spence, the accused's partner, was "in an unconscious state " in the passenger's seat of the van which was "seriously caved in" up against her and she was struggling to breath. Ms Spence, who had to be cut free, sustained multiple pelvic fractures, and cuts was treated at Caithness General Hospital before being airlifted to hospital in Inverness. She subsequently recovered and listened in the public benches as did Mr Larnach's partner, Leanne Sutherland, as evidence of the tragedy unfolded.
    Palmer, said Mr Tait, appeared to have been heading in a southerly direction and turning right, into the access road to his new home under construction.
    Student David Dunnet was working on a fencing, a few feet away, on the opposed side of the road and witnessed the accident.
    The 17-year-old told the court that he stood back to watch the bike, which was travelling north, pass, and then saw it hit the van as it was turning into the access road, but couldn't recall if the driver had indicated, or whether the bike had been showing any lights.
    Mr Dunnet, from Wick, told the court: " I saw the driver of the van get out. He told me -'I never seen him'". He
    added that he had not heard any noise of the bike approaching.
    The court heard a recording of an interview police conducted with Palmer, of 11 Malcolm Street, Wick. In it, he said he was returning to the new home he was building, at Windynook, Borrowston, with some materials and slowed down to turn right into the access road.
    He said he, stopped, checked behind and in front and was satisfied there was nothing coming.
    Palmer said he made a further check in front and there was still nothing approaching from the south.
    He said that he started to commence the manoeuvre and had just starting to cross the centre-line when he saw a motorbike and went on: "The guy was obviously on the brake at that point cause, to try to avoid me. I could see the back wheel of the bike coming up and he came into the van".
    Palmer went on to tell the investigating officer: "In my mind's eye, what I done, I done right. I looked, there was nothing coming, definitely nothing and I've turned, then it's gone pear-shaped." He estimated the motorbike's speed as having been "well in excess of the speed limit, from the point of view of my vision of nothing, to him suddenly being on top of us. It was more than nipping on, for want of a better word."
    Palmer added that he had forced his partner's mouth open as a part-time firemman supported her head, as he (the accused) didn't know where her tongue was, in order to insert his thumb. He that despite her injuries, her seatbelt had saved her.
    Mrs Catherine Henderson told the court that she heard the motorbike approach, at her roadside home, Borrowston Lodge, moving up the gears at "a very, very, fast speed. She said she heard a loud bang which she thought was the bike backfiring but later realised there had been an accident when she saw the emergency services on the scene.
    Asked by defence solicitor Fiona MacDonald, about her estimate of the speed the motorbike had been travelling at, she replied: "In my opinion the speed was definitely over the 60 mph speed limit."
    The trial continues.

    Last edited by Nwicker60; 02-Sep-13 at 18:34.

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