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Nuisance biker from Coventry jailed after killing 'peacemaker'

image copyrightWest Midlands Police
image captionJames Rowley admitted manslaughter and dangerous driving

An off-road biker who killed a man with a single punch has been jailed for nine years, after being asked to stop nuisance riding, a court heard.

James Rowley, 21, who had been noisily "showing off" on grassland, attacked "peacemaker" Joe Higgins, 41, in Radford, Coventry, on 17 March.

Rowley had no licence or insurance and left the scene of the killing.

The former warehouse worker, from Bowness Close, Radford, admitted manslaughter and dangerous driving.

He was ordered to serve a two-year driving ban after being released from prison.

Mr Higgins, a care sector manager, who lived in Bedford but was originally from Coventry, hit his head on the ground and died in hospital.

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image captionThe judge said Joe Higgins, pictured above, tried to speak to Rowley "politely"

Father-of-two Rowley initially claimed to have acted in self-defence.

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano was told he had been given a referral order as a teenager for an assault in which his victim lost consciousness.

After riding on the wrong side of the road and through a red light, he arrived at Jubilee Crescent and started riding on the grassed area, Warwick Crown Court heard.

"The bike had no lights and the danger you were causing was obvious," the judge said.

"You revved the engine and asked him if he 'wanted to get battered'.

"You then got off the bike... You were described by one witness as bouncing on your toes like a boxer.

"It [the punch] was sufficiently hard to bring a 17-stone man to the ground, a man who was acting as peacemaker, had his hands down and was unable to react to the blow."

In a statement, twin brother Chris Higgins described his sibling, a stepfather-of-three, as a "gentle giant" and true gentleman.

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