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Man cleared of deliberately mowing down biker on private land in his National Grid pick-up truck in Betteshanger near Deal

A man has been cleared of deliberately mowing down a "nuisance biker" in his company pick-up truck.

Adam Watts, who works for the National Grid, was alleged to have rammed his Mitsubishi 4x4 into the rear of Richard Atkinson's off-road motorcycle on farmer's land in Betteshanger, near Deal.

Adam Watts has been cleared of ramming into an off-road motorcyclist on farmland north of Willow Woods Road, in Betteshanger. Picture: Google
Adam Watts has been cleared of ramming into an off-road motorcyclist on farmland north of Willow Woods Road, in Betteshanger. Picture: Google

Canterbury Crown Court heard Mr Atkinson then went under the vehicle and suffered numerous fractures, cuts, and bruises, which left him in hospital for almost six weeks.

But Mr Watts said he had never intended the biker any harm as he followed him across a track in a private field north of Willow Woods Road.

The 42-year-old denied causing bodily harm by serious and wanton driving and was found not guilty yesterday (February 28) after jury deliberations lasting six hours.

Had he been convicted he faced a jail term of up to two years.

The court heard Mr Atkinson estimated he was riding his pit bike at about 20mph 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".

Mr Watts, however, maintained the collision was an accident which resulted when the motorcyclist suddenly braked in front of him.

He said he was following the bike so he could pass on details to Kent Police's Rural Task Force.

He was cleared at Canterbury Crown Court
He was cleared at Canterbury Crown Court

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.

His home in Northbourne Road backed onto the fields and, giving evidence during his trial, he said 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 which was driving across farming fields damaging crops and he had passed on its registration to police.

Mr Watts had permission to access 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 to "some motorbikes" being seen on the estate.

Mr 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."

Knowing the area, he drove to where he thought he might see them and, on parking up, immediately spotted two stationary riders about 400 metres away from him and in a field of winter rape crop.

Mr Watts told the court he waved his arm out of his truck window to indicate they should not be there, prompting them to turn around, perform a loop in the crops and then head off around the woods.

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

He then drove off and found one of the motorcyclists - Mr Atkinson - a few minutes later. His pit bike did not have a licence plate, brake lights or indicators.

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

"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."

Mr Watts said that having hit the bike, he stopped his truck to speak to the rider and, although he 'slightly" raised his voice to tell him he was not allowed on the land, he denied being angry.

He also told the court that having then driven off to find the second biker, it was only on his return a few minutes later that he realised Mr Atkinson was injured.

Mr Watts had told police at the scene: "It happens every day. I was just trying to get him to stop. It was an accident."

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.

Mr Atkinson said he was not aware he was being followed when he was "hit hard" from behind.

The impact dislodged the bike's rear mudguard, the handlebar was bent back so it was touching the fuel tank and the back wheel was buckled.

Following its seizure as part of the criminal investigation, it was stolen from a police compound.

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