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Teenage boy sentenced for killing motorcyclist by placing bike in his path

The teenage boy, who admitted manslaughter, cannot be named for legal reasons.

Michael Rice (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)
Michael Rice (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

By Claire Hayhurst, PA

A teenage boy has been sentenced to three years and two months in a Young Offender Institution for killing a motorcyclist by putting a YoBike in his path, causing a fatal collision.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named, placed the yellow hire bike in front of Michael Rice, 20, as he sped down a road in Hartcliffe, Bristol, in April this year.

Mr Rice, who was not wearing a helmet, applied his front brake and went headfirst over the handlebars before colliding into the back of a parked van.

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The motorbike ridden by Mr Rice, pictured after the collision (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

Bristol Crown Court has heard that Mr Rice died instantly from neck and chest injuries.

The teenager pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Rice, accepting that he “unlawfully killed” him, on Thursday.

Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, said reporting restrictions banning the identification of the defendant must remain in place following the case.

He told the boy: “Your decision to drag a bicycle, on its side, off the pavement so as to cause an obstruction, was an unlawful and dangerous thing to do.

“In my view, when you took the decision to do that dangerous thing, you were doing it so as to impress the older teenagers around you.

“However, any reasonable person would have inevitably realised that doing so risked causing the motorcyclist some bodily harm. It was a reckless act.”

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An image of the YoBike that was dragged into the road (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

During trial, Adam Vaitilingam QC said the motorbike Mr Rice had been riding on April 5 had been stolen a day earlier.

Mr Rice was from the Knowle West area of Bristol and was riding around the Hartcliffe area in a “provocative way”, he told the jury.

The keen motorcyclist first passed the Fulford Arms pub on Fulford Road once, drawing attention to himself from a crowd of children and young people outside.

He returned a second time, with people in the crowd suggesting that people should block the road to stop him – with one going forward on a bicycle to face him.

The teenager, then aged 15, grabbed hold of the YoBike and dragged it into the road.

Collision investigators calculated that Mr Rice was travelling between 52mph and 55mph at the time of the impact with the YoBike.

Judge Blair said it would have been possible for Mr Rice to have stopped to avoid the bike but he was accelerating and pulling a “wheelie” at the time.

“It was not the impact of the motorcycle with the bicycle which led to the fatality,” the judge said.

“Instead it was his panicked reaction to what was in front of him in the road which led to him applying the front brake lever while the front wheel was still in the air.

“Tragically, that led to him going over the handlebars of the motorcycle when it touched down and he was killed in an instant when he collided with a parked van.”

In a victim personal statement, Mr Rice’s mother Donna Rice described the impact of her son’s death on her family and his girlfriend.

“Mike was a loving, caring person,” she said.

“It feels like so long since we have been able to see Mike’s cheeky smile and hear his infectious laugh.”

Andrew Langdon QC, representing the boy, said he was “horrified by the unintended consequences of his act”.

The defendant was screened off from the public gallery during his trial and sentencing.

Members of Mr Rice’s family wept as the sentence was passed.

Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector James Riccio, of Avon and Somerset Police, paid tribute to the “courage and dignity” shown by them through the case.

“We appreciate that to Michael’s family and the wider community this sentence may seem lenient,” he said.

“We are now looking to consider making a formal appeal to have the sentence reviewed.”

PA

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