Motorcyclist says he could not have been at fault for fatal crash

PUBLISHED: 14:12 09 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:30 09 February 2016

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A motorcyclist from Exmouth has told a jury it is impossible he caused the death of his pillion passenger because he is such an experienced rider.

Kevin Hodge said he has no memory of the accident in which his son’s best friend Stephen Sanders was killed in April 2014 but is sure it wasn’t his fault.

The 48-year-old former firefighter is an experienced motorcyclist who has taken part in charity rides for Help for Heroes, the Devon Air Ambulance and the Royal British Legion.

He told Exeter Crown Court he had completed an advanced motorcycling course when he was running his own bike shop in Exmouth.

Hodge is on trial accused of causing the death of Mr Sanders, who died at the scene of a crash next to the M5 bridge on the Exeter to Topsham road.

Father-of-two Mr Sanders, who worked as a paintball marshal in Clyst St Mary, died on the day before his 24th birthday when he was thrown off Hodge’s Suzuki 750 as it hit a Jeep which was turning right into Retreat Drive.

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

The prosecution says he was overtaking a line of traffic as he passed under the motorway bridge heading towards Topsham and failed to notice the Jeep indicating and turning.

Hodge said he had taken the day off sick after having attended the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital with chest pains the previous morning and being given the all clear by doctors.

He went for a ride with his son Nico and Mr Sanders, who he had known for about 12 years and was a close friend of both his son and his daughter Lisa.

They went to Dawlish with Nico and Mr Sanders on the Suzuki, but they changed over less than half a mile from the crash site and Hodge took over.

Hodge said he had no memory of the accident at all but was sure he would have seen the Jeep if it had been indicating.

In an interview he told police: “Unless there was a fog that dropped over my head or I suddenly went blind, why would I not have seen that thing. Something has gone tits up and I can’t tell you what.”

He told the jury he may have been filtering, a term used by motorcyclists for passing cars at a slow pace and is sure he would have seen the Jeep if it had been clearly visible.

He said: “All I remember is waking up in Derriford Hospital six days later. I have tried to remember with counsellors and I have been back to the scene many times.

“It was tragic. Honestly, people don’t know what happened that day. It was a horrible, horrible tragedy.

“I can only go on my previous driving and riding experience. I am not able to accept I did see the Jeep. I can’t accept I would do that. I don’t understand why it could not be someone else’s fault.

“I don’t ride a motorcycle like that. I have been riding for years and there is no way I would have carried on that road if someone was indicating.”

Hodge said he has previously worked as private custody officer delivering prisoners to court and a retained firefighter in Honiton.

He now works as a compliance officer for a gas company after closing down a motorcycle sales, training and maintenance shop in Exmouth.

The trial continues.

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