Home   Deal   News   Article

National Grid worker accused of mowing down off-road biker on Betteshanger farmland says he never intended harm

A man on trial accused of deliberately mowing down a "nuisance biker" in his company pick-up truck has told a jury he never intended any harm.

National Grid worker Adam Watts, 42, was at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4x4 when he allegedly rammed the rear of Richard Atkinson's off-road motorcycle on farmer's land in Betteshanger, near Deal.

Adam Watts is accused of ramming into an off-road motorcyclist on farmland north of Willow Woods Road, in Betteshanger. Picture: Google maps
Adam Watts is accused of ramming into an off-road motorcyclist on farmland north of Willow Woods Road, in Betteshanger. Picture: Google maps

Mr Atkinson suffered numerous fractures, cuts, and bruises, and spent almost six weeks in hospital after the incident in January 2020.

Canterbury Crown Court heard he estimated he was riding his pit bike at about 20mph along a track in a private field north of Willow Woods Road when he was struck from behind and run over.

He said as he lay on the ground seriously injured, the driver shouted and screamed at him in "pure anger".

Watts, however, maintains the collision was an accident, that he never intended to hit Mr Atkinson and did not even realise he had gone under his vehicle on impact.

Watts, who denies an offence of causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving, told jurors that he had followed the bike so he could pass on details to Kent Police's Rural Task Force.

At the time, the married dad of two was a vetted member of its official Dover FarmWatch WhatsApp group set up to help tackle crime.

Watts, whose home in Northbourne Road backed onto the fields, told the court there had been "lots of issues" with off-road bikes and 4x4s driving across the fields "creating a nuisance, poaching and damaging crops".

The court heard there had been an earlier occasion when he had pursued a Land Rover driving across farming fields damaging crops. and passed on its registration to police.

Watts said he had permission to access, at any time, the privately owned land, where he would shoot and also help out at the farm with vermin control and harvesting.

It was on the afternoon of Saturday, January 4, 2020, that he was alerted by a welder on the farm estate that "some motorbikes" had been seen.

Adam Watts was driving in his National Grid truck. Stock Picture.
Adam Watts was driving in his National Grid truck. Stock Picture.

Watts, who was on annual leave from his then job as a craftsman, told the jury: "I thought I would try and get some details of the vehicles because I knew they shouldn't be on the estate, and provide details to police like I had previously done."

He said he had not seen or heard the bikes himself but, knowing the area, drove to where he thought he might see them.

Having parked up, he immediately spotted two stationary riders about 400 metres away from him and in a field of winter rape crop.

Watts told the court: "They shouldn't be there. I waved my arm out the window to indicate they shouldn't be there and they turned around straightaway.

"They did a loop in the crops and then went back around the woods. I turned around and went back the way I came to see if I could find them."

He continued driving around the estate at about 20 to 25mph before reaching a track where he spotted one of the motorcycles.

The vehicle did not have a licence plate, brake lights or indicators but according to Mr Atkinson it was purely for off-road use.

However, giving evidence to the court yesterday, February 22, Watts said he could not tell it was a pit bike, and explained that some off-road vehicles are fitted with such fixtures to make them road-legal as well.

He maintained he just wanted to obtain details to give to police and, if the rider had stopped, to tell him he was not allowed on the land and was damaging crops.

Describing the moment he hit the rear of the bike, Watts told the jury that without warning it had "stopped suddenly" in front of him.

Adam Watts is on trial at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Stock image
Adam Watts is on trial at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Stock image

"I was following him, gradually catching up and before I knew it we collided," he told the court.

"I didn't see any signs of him stopping. I wasn't going too fast that I crashed into him. To me, he suddenly stopped and I went into the back of him.

"I felt there was a sensible distance between us. I didn't see any risk. I put on the brakes and tried to stop but couldn't."

Watts said that having thought he had struck the bike "bang in the middle", it went to the left of his Mitsubishi and the rider to the right.

However, the court heard Mr Atkinson actually went under his vehicle and was found by Watts, after he had pulled up, about two to three truck lengths away.

Watts said he then walked up to the rider and told him "You're not supposed to be here".

He said he saw no sign of injury and thought the man replied "Alright mate" and was going to "get up and go".

He denied he had shouted angrily, describing his voice as being "slightly raised".

Watts then returned to his vehicle and drove off, he explained, to look for the second motorcyclist.

Asked what he would have done if he had known the man was injured he replied: "I would have helped."

‘To me, he suddenly stopped and I went into the back of him...’

The court heard Watts did not find the other biker and it was only on returning to the scene "to make sure the rider had cleared off" that he realised he was, in fact, "not OK".

Police and ambulances attended and Watts was arrested at the scene. He told an officer: "It happens every day. I was just trying to get him to stop. It was an accident."

He also said that he had seen the injured biker "acting a bit stupidly" and, having pursued him, "clipped and knocked him off" when he braked.

In a subsequent interview Watts stated: "At no time did I intend to hurt anyone. I was in control at all times."

Mr Atkinson, who is believed to be in his 30s, was taken to King's College Hospital in London with fractures to an arm, pelvis and three ribs, a collapsed lung, and wounds to his elbow and legs that required stitches.

He also had extensive bruising to his lower back, hips, arms, right thigh and right ankle.

The court heard he had been riding that day with a younger companion and, on seeing the man waving his arm, assumed he should not go in that direction and so turned and drove off.

Mr Atkinson, who was wearing a crash helmet, added he was not aware he was being followed when he was "hit hard" from behind.

Post-collision, the bike's rear mudguard was found to be missing, the handlebar had been bent back so it was touching the fuel tank and the back wheel was buckled.

However, jurors were told although it was recovered by police it was later stolen from a secure compound and so no further examination could be carried out.

The trial continues.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More