Padiham man guilty of biker’s motorway death

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The family of a Worsthorne man killed in a tragic motorway accident were in tears when they heard of the last few moments of his life.

Motorcyclist Peter Sarchet (41), who used to be associated with Peter’s Jewellers, died on the M65 near the Walton Summit junction when a car driven by Mark Walsh came to a near halt.

Walsh (35), of Balliol Close, Padiham, was found guilty of causing Mr Sarchet’s death by dangerous driving in a trial at Burnley Crown Court.

He will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on August 9th.

Both men had been travelling towards Preston on their way to work.

The court was told Mr Sarchet was forced to brake and his bike wheels locked. The bike tipped to the left and slid along the road before hitting the rear of Walsh’s Vauxhall Insignia car below bumper level. The bike careered off towards the central reservation and Mr Sarchet was trapped beneath the car that had come to rest at an angle in the nearside lane and on the hard shoulder.

Mr Bob Elias (prosecuting) said Walsh’s capricious driving caused the accident because he braked without reason to around 10mph. Evidence from the crash scene showed the car’s brake lights were on.

Mr Sarchet’s family broke down in tears as Mr Elias read a statement from a witness describing the scene as “carnage”. People went to his aid, but it seemed that he had died on impact.

Mr Alistair McDonald (defending) said drivers and witnesses at the accident had presented different recollections of the events in the five seconds leading up to the accident. Some people had remembered seeing the bike in the middle lane, others in the nearside lane. Two witnesses recalled seeing a light-coloured car in front of the Insignia.

He said a car travelling behind Walsh had moved quickly into another lane on seeing the brake lights. It appeared that Mr Sarchet’s brakes locked when he slowed down. He appeared to wobble and to lose control of his bike.

Walsh did not give evidence in court. In a statement he said he moved from the middle to the inside lane so that he could leave the motorway at junction 1. He recalled using his breaks to distance himself from a vehicle in front. He slammed on when he felt something at the back of the car.

The defendant, the court was told, was a family man of good character who was an experienced driver with a clean record. Judge Robert Altham rejected a defence application that there was no case to answer.

An expert witness called by the prosecution said Walsh’s car was doing 10mph at most when the accident happened.