Published: 00:01, 22 May 2016
A family left an inquest in disgust claiming “inconsistences” in police evidence remain unresolved following a second hearing into the death of a Canterbury motorcyclist.
Their doubts continue over the circumstances and investigation of a crash in which 44-year-old Maxwell Foster was killed.
An off-duty policeman, who was the key witness, said the gas fitter had been “riding like an idiot” as he overtook him moments before hitting the central reservation.
The crash happened last July on Hengist Way, between the Sevenscore and Lord of the Manor roundabouts near Ramsgate, when his 1,000cc Kawasaki bike hit the kerb.
Mr Foster, of Brymore Road, suffered fatal injuries after being thrown into a post.
A blood test revealed he was almost three times the drink-drive limit and crash experts estimated his speed at between 70mph and 86mph at the time of impact. The road has a 50mph limit.
The first inquest, in January, had to be adjourned by assistant coroner James Dillon after the family insisted that another witness, who failed to attend, should be called along with the officer in charge of the accident scene on the night.
At the reconvened hearing on Tuesday, Mr Foster’s family continued to question why off-duty police officer Grishka Winter, who described Mr Foster’s erratic riding, was only treated as a witness at the scene and allowed to leave.
Mr Winter had previously told the coroner how he was driving home from work when Mr
Foster came up at speed behind him and pulled alongside, revving his engine.
He said the rider was repeatedly slowing down and speeding up before going round a roundabout and hurtling past him “at great speed”.
He described seeing a car move into the outside lane ahead of him and then saw a shower of sparks. But the family argued that there were inconsistences in his statement and claimed they had evidence, gathered from their own Facebook appeal, that he may have been speaking on his mobile phone while driving at the time – an allegation flatly denied by the officer.
They wanted to know why he was treated differently at the scene to another driver, Peter Gallagher, who was breath-tested, claiming it was because Mr Winter was a police officer.
But Insp Martin Stevens, who led the investigation, said Mr Winter’s Mercedes car was subsequently “seized” for examination and no indication of contact with the motorcycle was found.
Mr Gallagher, from Ramsgate, told the coroner: “I was doing between 30mph and 40mph and had to move to the right-hand lane. I looked in my mirrors and checked over my right shoulder but didn’t see anything. I began to gradually move across and was only about halfway when I heard a screeching. I looked over my shoulder and saw sparks and the bike on its side.”
Mr Gallagher stopped the car and shortly after passed a breath test, with experts later ruling his vehicle had not made contact with the motorbike.
Insp Stevens insisted the investigation had been “objective and transparent”.
He said: “The cause of Mr Foster’s death was down to the excessive speed of his riding and intoxication.”
Recording the death had been from a road traffic collision, assistant coroner James Dillon said: “It may not be the conclusion the family want to hear, but I have to look at the evidence and the conclusions and there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement.”
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