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Thursday 8 December 2016

Teen 'doing wheelies on his off-road motorbike on Christmas Day, seconds before fatal crash', court hears

A teenager who was killed on Christmas Day when he crashed an off-road motorbike was seen doing wheelies seconds before, an inquest heard.

Leroy Coyle (19) from O’Sullivan Avenue in Ballybough, Dublin 3, was fatally injured when he lost control of the bike, a powerful off-road scrambler, crashing into a stationary car on December 25, 2013.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard he was not wearing a helmet at the time.

The incident happened on the Ballybough Road, a short distance from his home. His mother Patricia Coyle told the inquest they were celebrating Christmas dinner at her mother’s home on Oriel Street. She said her son left the house without telling anyone just after she asked him what he wanted for his meal. Within ten minutes she received a call from a neighbour telling her he had been in an accident and she rushed to the scene.

Ms Coyle said she battled through a crowd of people gathered around her son. “I just remember putting him in my arms and I knew he died in my arms on the road,” she said.

The inquest heard from local resident Cardula Hansen that she was woken earlier that morning at 5am by the noise of several very noisy motorbikes in the area. She saw the accident happen at around 1.45pm from her flat window. She said she watched as Mr Coyle, who was not wearing any safety gear, did a “wheelie” down the road. “The bike was becoming more and more vertical,” she said. Suddenly the noise from the bike changed and she saw the rider and the bike separate.

The bike slid across the road and crashed into the parked car of Catherine Leehane, who was sitting inside it having just finished a meals-on-wheels delivery in the area. She said it happened “like lightening” and she just saw Mr Coyle as he was toppling over before he crashed into her car. The bike continued on and crashed into another car while Mr Coyle came to rest near a bus stop across the road.

He was taken to the Mater Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Following an autopsy the pathologist gave the cause of death as multiple injuries due to the accident.

Garda Rory Carey said the bike, which was described as powerful and not suitable for use on the road, was retrieved from the rear garden of a nearby house. It had been stashed there by other local youths. “I imagine it was out of some sort of loyalty to Leroy, not thinking of the severity of the accident,” he said.

The owner of the bike has not been identified. It was not registered and the chassis number is not on Garda databases. Ms Coyle said her son was “mad into bikes” but did not own one when he died.

When the bike was inspected the handlebars were found to be loose and had rotated with the rider having to use their thumbs to brake. Forensic collision investigator Sergeant Paul Kearney estimated it was travelling in excess of 63 kilometres per hour when the crash happened.  His report concluded that Mr Coyle’s actions were a contributory factor in the accident.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

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