Mansfield man was over drug-drive limit and riding defective motorbike when he died in head-on smash

A Mansfield man was over the drug-drive limit, wearing no helmet and riding a defective motorbike at the point he crashed head-on into a campervan while trying to escape from police, an inquest was told.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 6:48 am

Declan Toyne, known locally as Dec Smedley, died hours after the collision on Berry Hill Lane on September 6 last year – despite the best efforts of police and two passing nurses to save his life, Nottingham Coroners’ Court was told on Wednesday.

The inquest was told that Mr Toyne had been spotted by a passing traffic officer on patrol in the area riding a Kawasaki without any rear number plates, along with three other bikers.

Police described giving chase, first along Jenny Becketts Lane – reaching speeds of almost 60mph to try to catch up with the 24-year-old – and then onto Berry Hill Lane.

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Tributes left close to the scene of the collision in Mansfield.

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But when Mr Toyne saw officers following him, he pulled off his helmet to force them to call off the pursuit and threw it to the ground.

Officers slowed and turned into a side street but moments later they saw the collision after Mr Toyne tried to overtake a red Volkswagen Golf and ploughed head-on into the van.

The inquest was told that the borrowed motorbike had multiple defects – including no back brakes and defective front brakes, partially flat tyres, a loose chain and other problems with its steering and suspension.

It also had no MOT and had not had a working speedometer since 2011, while Mr Toyne did not have a valid licence to ride it on the roads.

The motorbike sustained a broken headlight and buckled front forks and front wheel as a result of the collision, the inquest was told.

A statement from Home Office Pathologist Dr Mike Biggs, who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Toyne’s body, revealed that at the time of his death he had 11mg of THC – what cannabis turns into after consumption – in his system, when the legal driving limit is 2mg.

He said that Mr Toyne suffered multiple injuries but had died as a result of devastating head injuries, leading to cardiac arrest.

“The head injury in isolation was the cause of death,” he said. “He had removed his helmet shortly before the collision, although he could still have sustained the fatal injuries if he had not taken the helmet off.”

Witnesses described Mr Toyne overtaking the Golf on the wrong side of the road on a sharp bend – and struck his head on the windscreen of the van.

Recording a conclusion that Mr Toyne died as a result of a road traffic collision, Gordon Clow, assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire, said: “Unfortunately, he took risks with his own safety – he didn’t have a driving licence and had taken cannabis, which would have provided a strong motivation for him from being caught by the police.

“It may be that he didn’t see the van until it was too late for him to take evasive action and this may have been because he had consumed so much cannabis that he was four times over the legal driving limit. He drove in an unsafe manner, which resulted in him colliding with another vehicle.”

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