Did bike fault lead to fatal collision?

Gareth Falla
Gareth Falla
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A mechanical defect may have caused a motorcycle accident which claimed the life of an experienced rider from Wigan, a coroner has ruled.

Factory worker Gareth Falla, 32, suffered fatal injuries when his 1,200cc Suzuki Bandit bike left Seamans Way in Ince, Bolton Coroner’s Court was told.

Fellow rider Ian Benson said Mr Falla’s bike overtook his own bike at speed shortly before the collision, the court heard.

The inquest heard the bike and rider collided with tree stumps and eventually a lamp post.

The motorcyclist was taken to Wigan Infirmary, where repeated attempts were made at CPR before he was pronounced dead from multiple injuries in the early hours of May 15.

PC Hannah Siddall gave a statement saying she had spotted Mr Falla’s bike pulling a wheelie on Manchester Road, earlier that night.

But police accident investigator PC Adrian Pye said there was no evidence, from the physical marks left where the Suzuki struck a kerb later, to suggest the bike was being driven at high speed or performing stunts.

He told the hearing it may have been possible that Mr Falla had turned slightly to check on the bike he had passed.

This may have affected his reaction time as he was negotiating an upcoming bend, he added.

The inquest heard that an examination of Mr Falla’s bike showed there was a problem with the rear suspension, with too much “play” allowed in the system.

PC Pye added: “The faster the bike was going the more instability would be caused through this free play.”

Forensic toxicologist Julie Evans was called to give evidence after it emerged, following a post-mortem examination, he had 2.7mg of tramadol per litre of blood in his system at the time of his death.

But she told the inquest that the medication, which was being taken for persistent shoulder and back pain, could not be said to have impaired his reactions, especially if he had been taking the tablets for some time.

Recording a road traffic accident conclusion, Bolton senior coroner Prof Jennifer Leeming said: “Gareth was not travelling at excessive speed at the time of the collision.

“It is at least potentially probable that there was some instability with the bike which has caused the accident.

“An alternative explanation for what happened, or it may be both, is that at the time Gareth was looking behind him as he went into the bend, just to see where his fellow rider was.”

In a statement the deceased’s sister, Andrea Aspinall, described the father-of-one as a “a fantastic brother. Not only was he our brother, uncle and dad, he was our best friend”.

She said he was a very safe rider who was always repairing his bike.