A Falmouth lorry driver who caused a teenage motorcyclist’s death during a careless overtaking manoeuvre can have no complaint about his conviction, top judges have ruled.
Matthew Richard Collins, 31, accidentally drove his Peugeot 207 into the motorcycle being ridden by 17-year-old Jamie Ackerman after veering onto the wrong side of the road, between Bissoe and Chacewater, in 2011.
Collins, of Budock Water, was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, at Truro Crown Court in July last year, after he was convicted of causing the death of the Duchy College student by careless driving.
Last Friday three of the country’s most senior judges at London’s Appeal Court rejected a conviction challenge by Collins, dismissing claims that he did not receive a fair trial.
Lady Justice Rafferty said Collins had driven at speed and close to a car in front, before hitting Jamie, who was travelling on a 125cc motorbike in the opposite direction, on November 13.
Jamie died at the scene; Collins was arrested, but lied about the circumstances of the accident during his initial interview with police, before refusing to comment in a second interview, the appeal judge added.
At his trial, Collins insisted he had been travelling at a reasonable speed, that he saw no headlights from Jamie’s bike in the oncoming traffic and that he only “abutted” the road’s white line as he overtook a car turning left in front of him.
However, Lydia Mill, who was driving the car in front, with her son in the passenger seat, insisted Collins had been revving his engine and driving “as a boy racer would” before the fatal crash, said the judge.
Her son said Collins’ driving had been “aggressive” and that his Peugeot went onto the wrong side of the road as he overtook their vehicle.
On appeal, Collins’ barrister, Nicholas Lewin, argued the judge had failed to direct the jury as to inferences it could properly draw from his no comment interview.
He said the judge also erred in refusing to admit evidence from a psychologist, who had told the initial hearing that Collins was suffering from post-traumatic stress when he gave dishonest answers in his first police interview.
Lady Justice Rafferty said this was “unfortunate” but the error came “nowhere near” convincing the appeal court that the guilty verdict should be quashed.
The three-judge panel said the jury was “amply equipped” on the evidence, and dismissed the appeal.