A dad-of-three was killed just moments after riding off on a motorbike while upset over a relationship breakdown.
A post mortem examination on 24-year-old Ross Nicholls’ body revealed the presence of cannabis and cocaine in his system.
Mr Nicholls, 24, who was living in Valley Mill, Park Road, Elland at the time of the tragedy on May 3 last year, had recently split up with his partner when he took her brother’s motorcycle from the car park of the Foresters Arms pub at Lower Cumberworth in Huddersfield.
Eyewitnesses saw him riding at speed along Shelley Woodhouse Lane before turning into Ponker Lane in Skelmanthorpe where it is understood the machine braked suddenly on a bend and skidded for several metres before hitting a grass verge, a wall, a lamp-post and a tree stump.
Mr Nicholls, who was wearing a helmet, leather gloves, jogging bottoms and a T-shirt, suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Assistant coroner David Urpeth ruled that his death was due to a road traffic collision.
At the inquest at Bradford Coroner’s Court Mr Nicholls’ friend Matthew Ryan told how he and Mr Nicholls had talked in the pub car park.
He told the court: “He was in a bit of a bad way. He had split up with my sister.”
Shortly before 5pm Mr Nicholls - who only had a provisional licence - rode off on Mr Ryan’s yellow Suzuki GSXR 750cc motorcycle. Mr Ryan said his keys were in the machine and as he was talking on the phone he did not attempt to stop his friend.
“I didn’t ring the police,” he said. “I thought he wanted to get out on it and have a bit of a laugh. I thought he would come back on it.”
The court heard from a local resident, a jogger and a delivery driver that Mr Nicholls left the pub and went past “very quickly”.
In a statement one said: “The bike seemed to fly past me.”
Another said: “After a few seconds there was a guy in the road. It was a scene that I have never seen in my life.”
One witness recalled: “While I was at the scene a male came up, very agitated, and shouted, ‘He nicked my bike. It’s my brother-in-law.’”
Among those who attempted to help Mr Nicholls was Lauren Dollive, a nurse, who was on her way home from work. With another passing nurse she performed CPR on Mr Nicholls for around 10 minutes and put pressure on his wounds until an ambulance and firefighters from Skelmanthorpe Community Fire Station arrived with a defibrillator.
“He had a weak pulse,” she said. “He was not conscious. He had lost a lot of blood.”
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance set down in a field close to the incident and duty doctor Stephen Rowe attended. He told the court that in addition to chest and limb injuries Mr Nicholls had suffered a severe head injury and was not breathing. He was declared dead at 5.32pm.
West Yorkshire Police collision investigator Robert Eyre, who examined the scene of the incident, said there was insufficient evidence to determine the speed of the motorcycle when the collision occurred but that it was “no less than” the 60mph speed limit on that stretch of road.
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Pc Jeremy Hepworth, investigating officer with the Major Collision Inquiry Team, said there were no witnesses to the collision in which Mr Nicholls lost his life and no CCTV footage to show how it occurred.
Assistant Coroner David Urpeth concluded that Mr Nicholls’ death was due to a road traffic collision.
He added that a post mortem examination on Mr Nicholls’ body revealed the presence of cannabis and cocaine in his system but that the quantities could not be ascertained.
He said: “This is a situation where we have no witnesses at all to the collision itself. We have heard some evidence from Matthew Ryan that the deceased took his motorcycle. For the record I find it implausible. I find the evidence of Mr Ryan extremely unreliable. Mr Nicholls’ death is a tragedy for him and all those that he leaves behind.
“I am entirely satisfied that the appropriate conclusion is road traffic collision.”