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Bugle engineer rode bike like a 'bat out of hell'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: April 24, 2013

ROAD DEATH: James Ellis.

AN ENGINEER from Bugle was riding his 1,000cc motorbike "like a bat out of hell" moments before he died in a collision with a van, an inquest has heard.

Medical evidence also revealed James Ellis, who last lived at Listry Road in Newquay, had injected heroin in the hours leading up to his death on the A3058 road to Summercourt on June 7, 2011.

Three drivers witnessed the 33-year-old speed past them near Gummow's Shop junction at around 1.30pm, with one commenting to his wife "he's going to kill himself".

Delivery driver Alan Walker, who was travelling in the opposite direction, told Truro Coroner's Court on Friday that he had not seen Mr Ellis's blue Yamaha sports bike as he turned across the carriageway onto a farm track.

Mr Ellis was killed instantly when he collided with the rear of the Ford Transit van.

Tragically, his death proved to be the "tipping point" that prompted his mother, Patricia Gibbs, from Menorca Lane in Bugle, to take her own life. He was the last of her three children to die.

In a statement, made to police before she died and read out in court, she said: "He was my rock and he would always help me and my mother. He always stood by me in my difficult life. I feel lost without him."

PC Stuart Parrott, a police forensic collision investigator, calculated that Mr Ellis was travelling at between 65 and 68mph when he first applied the brakes, although the actual speed was likely to be higher. The speed limit is 60mph.

However, he said there was no clear explanation for why Mr Walker failed to spot the bike as he could see 200 metres up the road and conditions were good. He worked out that Mr Ellis would only have been between 53 and 84 metres away when he began to turn.

Factors such as "motion camouflage" could have meant Mr Ellis was harder to spot, Mr Parrott suggested.

He added: "The dark clothing and absence of a light may have caused him to be camouflaged against the dark background of the hedges."

A criminal investigation had been initiated but after examining the evidence the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was "no case to answer".

Mr Walker told the court he had looked up the road immediately before he turned.

He said: "I was flabbergasted. I had no idea where he came from. I never saw him. I just wish it had never happened. I look back and think that if I'd taken an extra minute or so at my previous delivery then it would never have happened."

He said other witnesses had told him Mr Ellis was "going like a bat out of hell", although the driver behind him, Kirk Pollard, questioned how he had failed to see the motorbike.

Toxicologist Dr Gayle Harrison said the large amounts of heroin in Mr Ellis's system could have dulled his reaction times.

Coroner Emma Carlyon recorded an open verdict.

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