Court hears Amazon driver killed Ripon motorcyclist while sending messages on Snapchat

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A rookie Amazon driver who was running out of fuel knocked over and killed a motorcyclist while texting on Snapchat and using a navigational app on his mobile phone, a court heard.

Daniaal Iqbal, 22, was on only his second day in the job when he drove around a sweeping bend on Kirkby Road near Ripon and collided with a Kawasaki Ninja bike travelling in the opposite direction, a jury at York Crown Court was told.

The rider, Ripon man Peter Rushworth, who was in his late 50s, was on the correct side of the road as he came around the bend, but Mr Iqbal’s white Transit van was on the wrong side, said prosecutor Katherine Robinson.

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The side of the van struck Mr Rushworth’s helmet, part of which broke off, she added.

York Crown CourtYork Crown Court
York Crown Court

Mr Rushworth and his motorbike then slid along the road towards the grass verge, crashing into a stone wall. Mr Rushworth then collided with some tree branches before falling to the ground.

Other motorists went to his aid, but he suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ms Robinson said that about 15 minutes before the collision on September 21, 2019, Mr Iqbal exchanged five text messages with an Amazon colleague about needing to refuel and arranging to meet up at the Morrison’s petrol station in Ripon because he didn’t have a company fuel card. He then made a delivery in Ripon and was travelling on Kirkby Lane, towards the town, when the crash occurred at about 6.30pm.

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Mr Rushforth and his bike were “thrown from the road into nearby vegetation and a small wall”, said Ms Robinson.

Police were called out and Mr Iqbal, who was described as looking “completely shocked”, remained at the scene. He told them he had been on the correct side of the road and that he was coming round the bend when “all of a sudden his driver’s-side mirror glass got hit”.

He claimed he had “slammed on” the brakes straight away and that the first time he saw the motorbike was “just before I hit it”.

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Phone records showed that minutes before the collision, Mr Iqbal had carried out a search on the Apple Maps navigation app to get directions to the fuel station.

“The phone does not record the Maps app being closed until after the collision,” said Ms Robinson.

At 6.30pm, around the time of the corash, records showed that the phone’s camera and Snapchat apps had been activated as Mr Iqbal approached the collision site.

A forensic officer who examined the phone said his investigation suggested that Mr Iqbal had sent a Snapchat message to a friend at about the time the delivery van came around the bend into the path of Mr Rushforth’s motorbike.

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The Snapchat app was only closed after the collision and tracker data showed that “harsh braking” of the van only occurred after the crash.

“The conclusion is that (Mr Iqbal) hadn’t seen the motorbike until after the collision because, we say, he was using his mobile phone,” said Ms Robinson.

The collision expert said Mr Iqbal could have been looking at the Apple Maps navigation aid or pressing the activate button on Snapchat around the time of the collision.

Mr Iqbal, of Toller Lane, Bradford, claimed he hadn’t been using his phone and was on the correct side of the road at the time of the crash.

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He doesn’t dispute that he caused the death of Mr Rushforth but denies that he was driving dangerously. The issues at stake are whether he was in the wrong lane and whether he was using his mobile at the point of collision.

Mr Iqbal’s Amazon colleague said she had received a text from her boss saying that Mr Iqbal had run out of fuel and needed help because he was only on his second day at work and didn’t have a company fuel card.

She agreed to meet Mr Iqbal at the petrol station in Ripon and sent him a message to make the arrangements about 15 minutes before the collision.

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Shortly afterwards, she received a phone call from her boss who told her that Mr Iqbal had been involved in an accident.

When she arrived at the scene, she saw an ambulance and a motorbike “by a tree, on its own”.

“Paramedics were doing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on a man on the ground,” she added.

Graham Atkinson, a friend of Mr Rushworth’s and a fellow motorbike enthusiast, said he received a text from his mate on the day of the crash saying that he was coming to see him and was “setting off in five minutes”.

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Mr Atkinson had offered his friend a motorbike and Mr Rushworth was on his way to look at the bike when the fatal crash occurred.

He said Mr Rushworth never showed up and when he tried to call him later that evening, his phone went to voicemail.

He said they had known each other since the mid-1960s when Mr Rushworth’s parents ran a post office in Ripon.

He said Mr Rushworth was a “quiet chap” who had a garage in North Street where he kept his motorbikes.

The trial continues.