Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Van driver found guilty of biker's death

Barry Smith
Image caption Barry Smith had pleaded not guilty to causing death by careless driving

A van driver is facing up to five years in jail after he was convicted of killing a motorcyclist in a road smash.

Barry Smith, from Lochore, had denied causing the death by careless driving of James Ward, 49, on a country road in Fife on 5 August 2011.

But a jury at Cupar Sheriff Court took less than 30 minutes to find the 39-year-old guilty by a majority.

Sheriff Fiona Tait deferred sentence until next month for reports and Smith was released on bail.

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

The accused failed to see the biker coming - causing a smash that catapulted Mr Ward through the air and on to a grass verge.

'Don't turn now'

Mr Ward was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on the Auchmuirbridge to Ballingry road.

The court was told that another motorist saw Smith indicating to turn across the path of Mr Ward's bike into a farm.

Robert Garmery 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'.

'Loud bang'

"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."

Alexander Thompson told the court that he and wife Florence had arrived on the scene moments after the smash.

"I got out of the car and I saw the van driver," he said. "I spoke to him.

"He kept repeating 'I should have known better - I'm a biker myself'.

"He was extremely upset and agitated. He was very distressed."