Questions over 'road rage' allegations overshadows inquest into 'much-loved' Northampton motorcyclist's death

The suggestions hung over the inquest into the "hard-working, much-loved" dad-of-three

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 6:00 am

Suggestions that a "dearly-loved" Northampton motorcyclist's death was linked to an alleged road rage incident were refused by police at an inquest yesterday.

Dad-of-three Martin Partridge died two days after losing control of his bike and colliding with a roundabout on the A43 southbound at around 10.30pm on March 20, 2019. He was 52.

But at the lifelong Cobblers fan's inquest yesterday, much of the evidence heard questioned the actions of Martin and the driver of a cream Mini Cooper in the minutes before the accident.

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"Losing Martin has been the most difficult thing our family has ever been though."

The coroner heard how Mr Partridge and the driver overtook each other several times in the lead-up to roundabout, reportedly 'slowed down' in front of one another and flashed headlights in turn.

One witness, an HGV driver, described it as "messing around" and likened it to a road rage incident.

It overshadowed much of the proceedings, and Mr Partridge's family's legal representative even suggested that the Mini driver had "cut in" on Martin by driving in front of him and "braking hard."

However, a Northamptonshire Police road traffic collision investigator, PC Amanda Firth, told the coroner that after watching dashcam footage she concluded that Mr Partridge had lost control of his bike independently of the Mini driver's actions while trying to overtake.

PC Firth said: "Mr Partridge's motorcycle was seen to wobble while moving to overtake the Mini in the first lane. This was the result of the rear wheel slipping on a cat's eye in the road.

"It was this manoeuvre that I believe was flawed... My conclusion is that he made a judgement to make a final overtake manoeuvre that tragically he was unable to control."

The officer also clarified that the "braking" by the Mini in front of the bike - as suggested by the family's legal representative - was Mr Partridge's headlamp reflected in the brake lights of the car.

She also refuted the suggestion that the Mini driver had "cut in".

In her conclusion, coroner Anne Pember said: "There had been previous overtake manoeuvres by both the motorcycle and the Mini cooper... On the approach to the roundabout Mr Partridge was unable to control his motorcycle. He collided with the roundabout and sustained fatal injuries."

In a tribute read out in court by the coroner, Martin's wife Joanne said: "Martin was a much-loved and well respected husband, father, father-in-law and friend.

"He was a proud man who worked hard to provide for his family, and he was well-respected at work as a lorry driver.

"He was enjoying life and was making plans for his retirement... He was the happiest he had been in years.

"Losing Martin has been the most difficult thing our family have ever experienced. He was loved so much and will be sorely missed by all."