Motorcyclist goes on trial accused of causing passenger’s death

PUBLISHED: 14:11 08 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:56 09 February 2016


A motorcycle pillion passenger from Exmouth was killed when its rider allegedly overtook a line of traffic and crashed into a Jeep which was turning right across its path, a court has heard.

Motorcyclist Kevin Hodge has gone on trial at Exeter Crown Court accused of causing the death of 23-year-old pillion passenger Stephen Sanders in the accident on the Exeter to Topsham road almost two years ago.

The court heard Hodge was riding a Suzuki 750 which hit the side of a Royal Navy doctor’s 4 x 4, as the doctor turned into Retreat Drive.

Father-of-two Mr Sanders, from Brixington, who worked at a paintball park at Clyst St Mary, died of his injuries after being thrown off the bike in the accident on April 15, 2014.

Hodge, aged 48, of Sycamore Close, Exmouth, denies causing death by careless driving.

Miss Heather Hope, prosecuting, said Hodge’s Suzuki was two cars behind a Jeep driven by Dr Sean Miles which had stopped just past the motorway bridge before turning into Retreat Drive.

She said the motorcycle overtook the cars and hit the side of the Jeep as it turned, causing both rider and pillion passenger to be thrown off and injured.

Miss Hope said: “Dr Miles indicated before the junction and the drivers of the two cars behind him saw his indicators. Witnesses say as Dr Miles was turning right they heard and saw Hodge accelerate and overtake the two vehicles he was behind.

“Up to that point there is no suggestion he had done anything wrong. He overtook on the opposite carriageway and in so doing collided with Dr Miles’ car.

“We say it should have been obvious to a competent and careful driver that with a vehicle turning right he should not have overtaken in those circumstances.

“His riding of that motorcycle that afternoon fell below the standard of a competent and careful driver and that caused the death of Mr Sanders.”

Miss Hope said Hodge gave two interviews to the police in which he said he could not remember the accident. He said he was a highly experienced rider and maintained his actions had not caused the accident.

Royal Navy medic Dr Miles said he was returning from a day out with his two sons and drove down Topsham Road towards the motorway bridge before indicating to turn right into Retreat Drive.

He said he is an experienced driver who has received special training in the military to teach him how to manoeuvre a vehicle in difficult situations when serving abroad.

He said he started indicating outside Topsham Football Club and stopped at the junction to Retreat Drive where he checked the road ahead and his mirrors.

He said: “I had not noticed any motorcycles. There was no oncoming traffic but I remember seeing some pedestrians on the cycle path on my left.

“I checked my mirror and there was nothing I could see at that point. I thought it was safe and clear to turn. I turned about two metres over when I was struck.

“The side window broke and there was a loud noise and glass showered over myself and my son. I saw the motorcycle smash into me and bank sideways. My vehicle was moved about a metre to the left by the impact.

“I saw the motorcycle keel off into the bushes and what I thought was the pillion passenger go over the car. The rider stayed with the motorcycle until it hit the fence.”

Dr Miles said he moved the car to a safer spot and went to check the vital signs of the two casualties, who both had pulses but were unconscious. He also took seven photographs on his phone as be called 999.

Drivers Susan Lloyd and Clare Rogers, who were following Dr Miles, said they saw his Jeep indicate and noticed the motorcycle overtaking them.

Mrs Lloyd said: “The motorcycle appeared to accelerate but was not necessarily going over the speed limit. I thought to myself ‘what are you doing’ because it was continuing to overtake me as the Jeep started to turn.”

The trial continues.

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