Van driver is cleared of causing Needham Market teenager’s death in road crash

Darnell Meade ANL-150705-152746001
Darnell Meade ANL-150705-152746001

A van driver has been cleared of causing the death of Needham Market teenager Darnell Meade in a road crash.

Mr Meade, 19, was killed instantly in the collision at the junction of Norwich Road and Sandy Lane in Barham in April last year.

It had been alleged that a van driven by 61-year-old David Thomas turned into the path of Mr Darnell who was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle

Mr Thomas, of Old Station Road, Halesworth this week went on trial at Ipswich Crown Court after pleading not guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Today (Wednesday) it took the jury less than three hours to find Mr Thomas, who is a Halesworth town councillor, not guilty.

After the verdict was announced, Judge David Goodin told Mr Thomas that he was free to leave the court.

When the trial began, prosecutor Isobell Ascherson alleged that Mr Thomas had failed to adequately check the road as he began to turn his delivery van into Sandy Lane and had, as a result, not seen Mr Meade approaching from the opposite direction.

The court had heard that Mr Meade, a chef at the Lion pub in Needham Market, had been travelling at between an estimated 87-97mph.

Despite being an experienced off-road motorcyclist, he had not passed a test to ride on public roads.

Miss Ascherson said the collision happened in a 40mph speed limit and was witnessed by a friend of Mr Meade who was travelling behind him in a car.

The prosecution alleged that if Mr Thomas had properly checked the road before starting his turn into Sandy Lane, he would have had up to seven seconds in which to have seen the motorcycle approaching.

Mr Thomas, who did not give evidence during the trial, told police in an interview following his arrest that he had not seen Mr Meade approaching and had almost completed turning his van into Sandy Lane when the impact occurred.

“The road was clear and he wasn’t there at all,” Mr Thomas told officers.

Mr Thomas said when he did see Mr Meade the motorcycle was wobbling and he thought a collision might be avoided but there was then a bang as Mr Meade struck the side of the van.