FIVE men accused of causing the deaths of a former Huddersfield woman and her husband in a motorcycle crash have walked free from court.
The five were all bikers who were riding with Helen and Dean Slater when the pair were killed.
A judge at Leeds Crown Court said he was satisfied it had not been a case of “racing” when Mrs Slater, riding pillion behind her husband Dean, both tragically lost their lives on August 25 last year.
“Each rider made his own decision to ride in the way he did,” said Judge Geoffrey Marson.
The Slaters died when their motorbike and a car collided on the A162 between Tadcaster and Sherburn in Elmet. They were thrown down an embankment.
Helen Slater, nee Moyle, 37, originally came from Huddersfield where her family still live.
She left the town when she was 18 and became a solicitor in Bradford, specialising in mental health.
Her husband Dean, 40, was riding the bike with Helen as pillion passenger when the tragedy happened.
The court heard the bikers were in two groups travelling the 32 miles from Cottingley, near Bingley, to Squire’s cafe in Sherburn-in-Elmet, as they went over a bridge across the A64 after leaving Tadcaster.
The car driver involved had passed the first three motorcyclists when he suddenly saw the Slater’s black Yamaha coming towards him from the second group.
Judge Marson said Mr Slater had lost control, most likely due to initial excessive speed which may have been compounded by braking.
The prosecution had claimed the motorcyclists were guilty of causing death by dangerous driving through a joint enterprise because by their actions they were encouraging each other to drive at dangerously high speeds.
But the judge rejected that argument and said: “I am satisfied that this is not a racing case.”
He added: “Mr Slater, on the evidence, made a voluntary and informed decision to ride in the way that he did rather than in another way. The cause of death was the free, deliberate and informed decision of Mr Slater and no one else.”
Charges of causing the deaths by dangerous driving of Mr and Mrs Slater were dismissed against Ian Towson, 32, of Leafield Crescent, Eccleshill, Paul Wheater, 29, of Halifax Road, Cullingworth, Michael Paul Hannon, 27, of Etna Street, Great Horton, all Bradford; and Dax Lerman, 29, of Rycroft Avenue, Bingley, and David Jason Hastings, 37, of Clough Fold, Keighley.