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Farmer James Watson, 84, drove off after accident

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 12, 2014

AN 84-YEAR-OLD farmer who drove away after knocking down a motorcyclist in Port Isaac has been fined.

James Watson's Suzuki Carry pick-up hit a BMW being ridden by Roger Bray following an "impasse" in a steep and narrow street.

Watson, of The Mill, Port Isaac, was ordered to pay £764 in fines, costs and a surcharge and his clean licence was endorsed with eight penalty points after being convicted of three offences following the collision on Church Hill on July 14.

He had denied driving without due care and attention, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report it but was found guilty after a trial at Bodmin Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

Mr Bray was injured and around £2,000 damage was caused to his bike.

Terry Eastwood, for the prosecution, said Watson was going up the hill when he saw a group of motorcyclists led by Mr Bray coming down.

Everyone stopped and Watson indicated with his hand that the motorcycles should reverse back up the hill. This would have been impossible and there was an impasse, said Mr Eastwood.

Watson then pushed past Mr Bray's motorcycle, which was near the wall, colliding with it and knocking him off. Mr Bray's fellow riders waved at Watson to stop but he drove on. Questioned later, he insisted there had been no collision and that there was therefore no need to report it, although he subsequently wrote to the police saying he had seen in his wing mirror the motorcyclist fall off but as "nobody was hurt", he drove on. In court, he denied seeing Mr Bray fall off.

Mr Eastwood told the court: "He knew full well; he must have heard and felt the collision and should have stopped and reported it."

Mr Bray, a butcher, described how he told Watson he couldn't turn round and moved his machine as close to the wall as possible on the correct side of the road.

"He [Watson] didn't want to reverse. He hit the side of my bike and threw me off, on to the ground," he said.

A fellow rider quickly dismounted and grabbed the BMW to stop it from falling it on top of Mr Bray.

Mr Bray told the court his elbow, thigh, neck and lower back were injured, and he also banged his head and damaged his helmet. The bike was damaged all down one side.

Cross-examined by Chris Nicholls, for the defence, Mr Bray denied Watson had made a gesture to indicate he planned to pull into a space further up near a phone box.

Motorcyclist Gary Hawken told the court that after seeing Mr Bray knocked over, "I put my hand up to ask [Watson] to stop but he gave a V-sign and carried on up the hill."

Watson told the court he had driven up Church Hill daily for around 32 years and knew where the passing places were. He had also ridden motorcycles many years ago and, knowing that they couldn't reverse, would never have asked a rider to do so.

"I gesticulated that I would pull in. The next thing I knew the motorbike came in front of the pick-up and down the passenger's side," he said.

"There was no room on the driver's side."

Watson said he hadn't heard or felt a collision and denied creating an impasse by refusing to move, and trapping Mr Bray against the wall. "There was nothing in my actions which would have led to his injuries," he said.

Chairman of the bench Frances Tregaskes said Mr Bray's injuries and the damage to the bike were consistent with his version of events.

She told Watson: "You could have dropped back a few feet to where the road widened. You saw the bike fall over but you continued to drive away. Despite being flagged down, again you drove on."

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