11 Aug 2011

Court hears evidence over police car fatality

8:18 pm on 11 August 2011

A motorcyclist who died after ploughing into a turning police car would not have had time to avoid the collision due to the estimated speed he was travelling, a court has been told.

Highway patrol officer Michael Lenihan, 60, is facing two charges of dangerous driving causing death and injury at a defended hearing.

Paul Brown, 37, was killed when his motorbike came over the brow of a hill on a rural road near Te Kauwhata and hit the patrol car in April last year.

Constable Lenihan was making a three-point turn preparing to chase a vehicle clocked at 153km/h when the crash occurred.

Police estimate the motorcyclist was travelling between 114km/h and 142km/h and would have only seen the patrol car from 120 metres, the Hamilton District Court was told on Thursday.

A serious crash expert, Senior Constable David Tidmarsh, told the court that accused took a risk performing the turn, considering the road width and visibility.

Graham Williams, a private crash investigator called as a witness for the defence, estimated that Mr Brown was travelling at up to 158km/h and said it was an inappropriate place for the officer to make a turn.

Both sides agree that Mr Brown was a very experienced rider who would have reacted much quicker that the average driver, but at the speed he was going, he didn't stand a chance.

Judge Lance Moore has reserved his decision until Friday afternoon.