'Erratic' driver faces jail as court finds him guilty of causing biker's death
DRIVER Leroy Hawthorne-Brown faces a possible jail term after being convicted of causing death by careless driving.
Hawthorne-Brown, 27, of Victoria Avenue, Redfield, denied the charge, relating to an incident in November 2011.
Bristol Crown Court heard the Nissan Almera GTi driver was overtaking erratically before he turned out into the path of motorcyclist Marcus Wideson, who was heading the same way in the right hand lane of southbound Falcondale Road.
The court was told that in the incident 27-year-old Mr Wideson braked hard and was thrown from his 600cc Honda Hornet.
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The motorcycle was estimated to have been travelling at a minimum 40mph when it skidded on its locked rear wheel for some 14 metres before toppling over and travelling a further 27 metres on its side.
The rider was thrown across the road and was struck by an oncoming Nissan Micra, suffering fatal multiple injuries.
Expert accident investigators called to give evidence by both the prosecution and defence agreed there was no evidence of contact between the car and motorcycle.
Paul Riley, an expert called by the defence, said the Nissan Almera driver would have had a rear view of 110 metres and would have taken less than two seconds to manoeuvre right.
Mr Riley said if the motorcycle was travelling at 40mph it would have taken 6.15 seconds to cover 110 metres.
He said if the motorcycle was travelling at 70mph it would have taken 3.5 seconds to cover that distance.
Hawthorne-Brown said he was with his grandmother, Beryl Brown, when they were returning from his daughter's first birthday party at Jump in Cribbs Causeway.
He said he drove more considerately as he had his gran with him, and if he had overtaken cars he would have been "normal and safe".
Hawthorne-Brown told the court that, on Falcondale Road, there was a slow driver in front and as there was nothing in the right-hand lane he decided to change lanes.
He explained how he checked his mirrors, considered it safe, indicated and began to move from the left to right-hand lane.
When he checked his wing mirror again, he said, he saw a light or lights coming behind him "pretty quick".
He told the jury: "I applied the brakes, cancelled the indicators and returned to my original position in my lane.
"It took maybe two seconds to manoeuvre right.
"It took one or two seconds to manoeuvre left. I carried on straight down the road.
"I don't have recollection of the car in front of me pulling over."
Hawthorne-Brown said there was no collision, he heard no collision and he didn't see a motorbike pass by him on its side.
He told the court: "As far as I'm aware I was doing the checks I had been taught to do in driving. That's all I can say."
Mrs Brown, 74, said her grandson's driving had been safe and she was not aware of any incident.
She told the jury the reason he aborted the lane change was to avoid a car which was coming towards them, straying into their lane.
Hawthorne-Brown will be sentenced for causing death by careless driving on January 31.
Judge Michael Longman also has found that he failed to stop after the accident and failed to report it, but the judge conceded Hawthorne- Brown could not have known the severity of the accident or its tragic consequences.