A COURT heard how a "wonderful partner, father and friend" died in a motorbike crash.
Coroner Roger Whittaker recorded a verdict of accidental death yesterday – but was unable to say why Leon Shirreff, 41, had lost control of his Honda Hornet on New Hey Road in Scammonden.
Huddersfield Coroners’ Court heard that the father-of-two hit a wall and a telegraph pole after drifting left at a right-hand turn.
Mr Shirreff’s friend of 23 years, Leon Rigby, was riding about 40 metres behind when the accident happened.
In a statement read to the court yesterday, he said: "We had travelled on New Hey Road a number of times. We were doing approximately 50mph and the road was empty except for one car behind us which was hanging back.
"We were on a straight stretch of road going slightly downhill. At the right-hand bend, Leon started drifting towards the verge on the left.
"I knew he was out of control. He hit the wall and bounced off it before hitting a telegraph pole head-first. The bike carried on and ended up in a field.
"I stopped straight away and went over to Leon expecting him to jump to his feet but he didn’t move.
"I couldn’t see his chest moving and, when I removed his helmet, there was blood coming from his nose and mouth. One eye was closed and swollen."
Mr Rigby performed mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions until paramedics arrived.
He added: "I don’t know why he lost control. He wasn’t going too fast and he was normally a good rider."
Mr Shirreff had a daughter Lisa with Jacqui Dixon in 1987, but the couple separated four years later.
The court heard a statement from Wendy McDermott, Mr Shirreff’s partner since 1992.
She said: "We fell in love instantly. In 1993 our daughter Kelly Jade was born and in 1995 we bought our first house together.
"He was a very sociable character and a big family man. He was a wonderful partner, father and friend.
"He always had an interest in motorbikes and in 2007 he passed his test and bought a 600cc Honda. He would go out riding every Sunday with three friends.
"He would put the bike away in the winter months and only get it out of the garage again in March."
The court heard how Mr Shirreff set up Pipemasters Engineering in Shaw near Oldham 12 years ago.
On April 17 this year he finished work early and decided to go for a ride with colleague Mr Rigby from Shaw through Halifax and Denshaw to Outlane.
Ms McDermott said: "I recall that it was a beautiful afternoon. I got home about 3.45pm. I was unloading my shopping when I got a call saying Leon had been in an accident."
"I called Leon Rigby who said they were working on him. He was very upset and I don’t think he wanted to tell me the full circumstances."
Ms McDermott went to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary where she was told that her partner had died. She said: "Everything was a blur."
The court also heard from PC Mark Lingard, a specialist traffic accident investigator.
He said: "There was nothing mechanically wrong with the bike and the road was free from any significant defects such as oil spills.
"I was not able to establish speed because there were no tyre marks. However, I found no evidence to dispute that Mr Shirreff had been doing around 50mph."
The court also heard that a toxicology sample showed there were no drugs or alcohol in Mr Shirreff’s system.
A post-mortem showed that Mr Shirreff had suffered multiple injuries leading to cardio-respiratory arrest.
Mr Whittaker recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: "One could speculate all day but, for some reason, Leon Shirreff drifted to the left. I can’t be sure what caused this incident but it was a tragic accident."