Essex motorcyclist was “catapulted into tree”

ROAD improvements will provide a lasting legacy to a motorcyclist who died following a horrific crash almost a year ago.

Paul Lee, 42, was thrown off his Yamaha 1000cc bike into a tree near Cornish Hall End when he misinterpreted the direction of the road in August 2009.

The father of two from London was days away from concluding a divorce and had bought the bike as a “new lease of life,” according to members of his family.

At an inquest at county hall last Thursday Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking afterwards Mr Lee’s uncle Peter Harrington said: “It was a kind of midlife crisis. He used to have a bike when he was 18 and in some way he was trying to get that feeling back.

“He was such a determined man, that even if he couldn’t handle the bike properly he still would have tried.”

Mr Lee hadn’t ridden a motorbike for 20 years but was invited out by new friend, Mervin Ridgewell, who he had met in a Braintree bike shop. Six weeks later he died on their first outing.

Most Read

No one saw the accident, but Mr Ridgewell recalled that Mr Lee “had trouble getting round corners.” He said that he had to tell him to “slow the f*** slow down” on one occasion.

“He started to look more confident as got into the ride,” he added. “So I went in front of him. When I checked my mirrors he wasn’t there. We waited for a bit and then went back. We found him in a ditch next to the bike.”

PC Duncan Thirwell was one of the first officers at the scene. He told the inquest that no faults were found on the bike and there was nothing to suggest the inexperienced rider was breaking the 60mph speed limit.

“No other vehicles were involved,” he said. “He emergency braked and catapulted over the front of the bike. Tyre marks indicated that he was in a position to go around a left bend, but it was a right bend. It looked like a serious misjudgement because the corner is well signposted.”

Since the accident, road camber adjustments and improvements have been made to the area of the B1057, which connects Cornish Hall End with Finchingfield.

Mr Lee’s aunty Sue Harrington said: “If there is at least one thing good to come out of this – at least no one else will have the same accident on that part of the road.”

She added: “Paul wanted to practice on his bike with the aim of going on his own ‘top gear challenge’ by riding an old motorbike around Nurburgring in Germany.

“He is sadly missed.”