COURT VERDICT: Van driver Allen caused St Ives biker death

A 71-YEAR-OLD van driver has been found guilty of causing the death of a motorcyclist after he failed to see the rider at a junction.

Richard Skinner died after being thrown from his machine after he was involved in an accident with a Volkswagen Transporter van driven by Dennis Allen, at 1.30pm on April 5 last year.

Allen, of Slade Close, Ramsey denied causing death by careless driving when he appeared at Peterborough Crown Court last week.

He claimed a sign at the junction of the B1040 and Pidley Sheep Lane had blocked his view of the bike as he was preparing to turn right towards St Ives.

But prosecutor Simon Ash said tyre marks left by Allen’s vehicle proved he was creeping out of the junction and trying to edge into a gap between vehicles coming in the other direction.

Mr Ash said: “When you pulled out Mr Skinner was approaching from the right. If you had looked carefully and properly, you would have seen him.

“You claim it must have been the sign that obscured your view. If the motorbike was coming along the middle of the lane, he would have been in view 320 metres away.

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“You didn’t check to the right because you were waiting to see if the Jaguar would let you in.”

Mr Skinner, 31, of Veasey Close, Hartford, had been travelling on the southbound carriageway of the B1040 towards Somersham.

Allen was on his way to Hensby Compost Ltd, at Woodhurst, when he stopped to turn right into the B1040 from Pidley Sheep Lane.

The jury, sitting for the three-day trial, was told he let a blue Rover, approaching from his left, pass before then checking to the right and to the left and deciding to pull out into the road.

A beige Jaguar travelling from his left was some distance from the junction, Allen said.

He said: “I looked to the right, it was clear – no vehicle. I was concentrating on the left because there was a lot of traffic.

“I let the lead car go, the right was clear. I looked to the left and estimated the speed of the car coming towards me was so slow it gave me ample time to pull out.

“As I started to move off, I was glancing round. That instant the motorbike was there, 30-40 metres away. I instantly slapped the brakes on.”

A give way sign, which Allen claimed blocked his view of the bike, has since been moved by Cambridgeshire County Council, although officials denied it was due to the accident.

Collision investigator Tim Kirkby, of Cambridgeshire police, said that tyre marks left by the van proved it had been creeping forward.

Allen will be sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court on September 16.