Two bikers who tampered with 'key evidence' after friend killed in Cockerham crash jailed

Two men have been jailed for dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice following a fatal crash in Cockerham.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 2:59 pm

A motorcyclist was thrown from his bike following a collision in Lancaster Road, between the villages of Pilling and Cockerham, at around 3.45pm on October 20, 2018.

The man, who was later identified as 42-year-old John Rhodes from Fleetwood, suffered "serious injuries" and died at Royal Preston Hospital on October 21.

"Unfortunately Mr Rhodes lost control of his motorcycle on the approach to a right hand bend, leaving the carriageway to the nearside and sustained catastrophic injuries that he tragically died from the following day," Sgt Steve Hardman, of Lancashire Police's Tactical Operations, said.

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Martin Sweeney (pictured left), 46 and Jamie Wilding (pictured right), 40, were sentenced at Preston Crown Court after the death of John Rhodes, 42, from Fleetwood. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

Officers launched an investigation following the collision and found Martin Sweeney, 46 and Jamie Wilding, 40, had been riding alongside Mr Rhodes.

The ride started from Thornton with the group travelling towards Lancaster before the collision took place.

A number of witnesses spoke to officers at the scene where they revealed "key evidence had been tampered with prior to police arrival".

Wilding had also left before police arrived, with Sweeney suggesting no one else was involved when speaking to officers.

Sgt Steve Hardman added: "Despite their friend being critically injured in the field, witness accounts revealed both men seemed intent on removing evidence due to their grossly excessive speeds at the time of the collision."

Sweeney was arrested at the scene, with Wilding later arrested in the early hours of October 21.

Officers seized Wilding's mobile phone and found a recording of the collision which had been captured on a camera attached to Sweeney's bike.

This confirmed at least one camera was removed from the scene prior to the police arriving.

The footage showed Mr Rhodes losing control of his bike after attempting to overtake Sweeney - who was captured reaching speeds of up to 140mph.

The speed limit for the road was 60mph.

"Despite being challenged both at the scene and in subsequent interviews they denied the existence of any footage of the collision and did not accept the manner of their riding to be dangerous," Sgt Steve Hardman said.

"The trial judge described their actions as 'appalling’."

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Both men were later charged and initially pleaded guilty to dangerous driving before entering guilty pleas at different stages to perverting the course of justice.

Sweeney, of Eversleigh Avenue, Thornton, was given six months imprisonment for dangerous driving and 27 months imprisonment for perverting the course of justice to run consecutively.

He was disqualified from driving for four years and three months.

He is required to take an extended retest.

Wilding, of Goldsboro Avenue, Blackpool, was given six months imprisonment for dangerous driving and 21 months imprisonment for perverting the course of justice to run consecutively.

He was disqualified from driving for four years and 11 months.

He is also required to take an extended retest.

Police were also given authority for a forfeiture order for both motorcycles to be destroyed at the conclusion of the investigation.

"We hope they are able to use this time to reflect on the gravity of their actions," Sgt Steve Hardman said.

"Our thoughts remain with Mr Rhodes' family and friends at this sad and difficult time."

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