Teenager’s fatal ‘error of judgment’ in Stalham crash

A teenage motorcyclist who died in an horrific accident close to a Norfolk high school committed a 'clear error of judgment' in trying to overtake a car, a Great Yarmouth inquest was told yesterday.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said the driver of the Mitsubishi, Kerry Knights, who had been collecting her three children from school in Stalham, was clearly blameless in the collision that took place.

However, in recording a verdict of death by road traffic collision, he paid tribute to the rider of the Honda 125, Ashton Brooks, 19, of St Mary's Road, Stalham, describing him as 'happy-go-lucky and a very popular young man'.

'The fact that 500 people attended his funeral speaks for itself,' he said.

Witness John Bailey had earlier told the inquest how he had been driving behind Ms Knights in Yarmouth Road, Stalham, at about 3.15pm on November 17 last year.

Recalling a busy scene outside the high school with students jumping up and down on the kerb, he said Ms Knights had been driving very slowly and had indicated before starting to overtake three children on bikes. Just at that moment, he had heard the 'screaming small engine noise' of a motorbike that overtook him travelling fast.

Mr Bailey said there had been room for the Honda to pull in between his Ford Transit and Ms Knights' car, but the rider had continued his overtaking manoeuvre and struck the Mitsubishi near the offside door.

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He said: 'The bike then went all over the place and when the rider came off, it continued along the carriageway on its side.

'I saw two girls (school students) tumbling down and was not sure whether it was the bike or rider that hit them.'

Ms Knights said she had picked up her eldest daughter at the high school and was driving to the middle school to pick up another of her children.

She said: 'There were three boys riding along in front of me and I was only driving at about 10mph.

'I recall looking in my mirror and seeing the van behind me, but nothing else. All I can remember after that was hearing a bang and coming to a stop.'

Crash investigator PC Wendy Biddle told the inquest the road was narrow but there was sufficient room for two vehicles to pass easily.

She said an examination of the motorbike after the crash by Sgt Andy Hood showed evidence of poor maintenance; the rear tyre had less than the legal minimum tread depth and there was a defect in the front brake.

She said it appeared that Mr Brooks, a retail assistant, had failed to perceive the potential hazards before overtaking the Transit and failed to reassess whether it was safe to continue overtaking.

PC Biddle said there was no evidence of emergency braking by Mr Brooks before the collision.