Van driver guilty of causing motorcyclist's death on country road

Cupar Sheriff Court
Cupar Sheriff Court: Barry Smith caused the death of James Ward.

A van driver has been convicted of killing a motorcyclist in a road smash in Fife.

Barry Smith caused the death of James Ward, 49, on a country road on August 5, 2011.

Smith had told witnesses at the scene of the crash, on the C50 road between Auchmuirbridge and Ballingry: "I should have known better, I'm a biker myself."

Smith turned his Vauxhall Combo van across the path of Mr Ward's powerful Yamaha R1 motorcycle as he tried to turn into a farm entrance.

He failed to see the biker coming, causing a smash that catapulted Mr Ward through the air and on to a grass verge. Mr Ward was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

A jury at Cupar Sheriff Court was told that another motorist saw Smith indicating to turn across the path of Mr Ward's bike into a farm. The man then saw Mr Ward flying through the air after the collision.

Robert Garmery said he was just in front of Smith when he saw him preparing to make the manoeuvre and thought "don't turn now".

He said: "I was aware of the motorcyclist coming towards me and I was aware of the van behind me. The motorcyclist was only maybe 20 to 30 metres ahead of me.

"I was probably just beyond the junction and the bike was giving me no concern. I noticed the van had indicated to turn right. My thoughts were 'don't turn right now'.

"Then it was all played out in my rear view mirror. I heard a loud bang and looked back and I saw the motorcyclist in the air above the van, he was spinning in the air."

Smith, 39, of Balbedie Avenue, Lochore, Fife, had denied causing death by careless driving.

But a jury of nine men and six women took less than 30 minutes to find him guilty by a majority.

He was convicted of causing Mr Ward's death on the C50 Auchmuirbridge to Ballingry Road Smith by driving his Vauxhall Combo van without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for other road users.

He turned right without "carrying out adequate observations", crossing the opposite lane of the road in front of the motorcycle ridden by Mr Ward, causing a collision in which he was fatally injured.

Sheriff Fiona Tait deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports.