Park Street man set for jail time following conviction of death by dangerous driving

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 November 2016

Luke Stella, 25, of Park Street Lane, Park Street, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court on Monday (31)

Luke Stella, 25, of Park Street Lane, Park Street, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court on Monday (31)

Archant

A jail sentence is ‘inevitable’ for a speeding motorbike rider who knocked down and killed a 71-year-old man, a judge has warned.

Luke Stella, 25, of Park Street Lane, Park Street, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court on Monday (31).

Stella, who had pleaded not guilty, was driving home from work on his Suzuki motorbike on April 14, 2014 when he collided with pedestrian Francis Abbott, in Mutton Lane, Potters Bar.

Mr Abbott, who was walking home from Sainsbury’s with his shopping, was killed, while Stella suffered a broken leg.

After being convicted by a jury of six men and six women at the Crown Court, Stella will be sentenced on November 30.

In the meantime, Judge Stephen Warner, who bailed the man for pre-sentence reports, gave an interim order banning him from driving.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw told the court that Mr Abbott was crossing Mutton Lane, which has a 30mph limit, when he was struck by the Suzuki.

He said: “Mr Abbott emerged from behind a white van, but the crown say he [Stella] was in all probability speeding and not paying sufficient attention to avoid Mr Abbott.

“One witness said the motorbike overtook and was travelling very fast – faster than 30 miles per hour. The motorbike moved at speed and the front wheel lifted off the road, performing a wheelie.”

In court on October 27, Stella said: “I am devastated for Mr Abbott’s family and everyone that knew him. It’s a very, very upsetting time and I never thought I’d ever find myself in a situation like this.”

The prosecutor accused Stella of lying during an interview with police in 2014, when he claimed his bike was incapable of doing wheelies, although a video on Stella’s Instagram from February 2014 showed him performing wheelies on the same bike.

Speaking about the Instagram video, Mr Shaw said: “That piece of information was available in your head in the interview on July 24, 2014.

“What you were trying to lead the police to believe there is that you have never, ever done a wheelie on your bike. You were trying to talk your way out of trouble, weren’t you?”

But Stella replied: “I am not a liar. I just got carried away with what I was saying. It’s not something that’s in my riding style on a normal drive home from work.

“The video was on a Sunday and it was arranged. I hadn’t listened to the question exactly.”

One witness, who had been walking with her son on Mutton Lane that day, said Stella drove very close to her before colliding with Mr Abbott.

She said: “I got scared and I stepped back”, and that Stella had been driving fast.

Another witness, who had been driving a campervan on the road, said: “I didn’t feel he was going fast.

“The bike was quite close to where the gentleman stepped out. I could see that they were going to collide. I saw the guy on the bike try to avoid the man by turning the wheel.”

When questioned about the collision by Alistair Polson, defending, Stella said: “I have a very slight memory of being on the floor. I remember bits and pieces from being in hospital.

“I don’t think a wheelie would have been possible at that speed.”

The judge said: “You have been convicted of a serious offence. In my view, a custodial sentence is inevitable.”

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Court results published by the Herts Ad are taken from St Albans, Stevenage and Hatfield Magistrates Court and are published without prejudice.

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