"Confusing evidence" not reported in media upsets family of tragic biker

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"Confusing evidence" not reported in media upsets family of tragic biker

20th March 2013

Following the conclusion of the inquest at Greater Manchester West Coroner’s Court in Bolton into the deaths of Ryan Smith and Leah Davies, the family of Ryan Smith have spoken of their upset at some of the media coverage of the hearing.

Mrs Rosemary Smith said she and her family had been greatly distressed by news reports which had highlighted only some of the witness evidence – evidence the Deputy Coroner Mr Alan Walsh himself described as “confusing and changeable”  when delivering a narrative verdict on Tuesday (19 March).

“Our family has been left devastated by this tragic accident. Ryan was our youngest son, the baby of the family, and to have lost him at such a young age has caused indescribable distress,” she said.

“But those feelings have been compounded by the sensationalist nature of some of the reporting, which chose to highlight only some of the witness evidence, and failed to address the fact that the veracity of much of this evidence was challenged. This was not included in many of the news reports, which chose to use headline-grabbing phrases instead of presenting the whole story.”

“This terrible accident robbed our family of a loving son and brother, and left his group of friends in shock and disbelief,” she said. “We as a family also want to express our deepest condolences to Leah’s family and friends, and everyone else whose lives have been affected by this horrific ordeal.

“We had hoped that the Coroner’s verdict and his comments would lay to rest some of the cruel and untrue rumours about this awful accident, and that we would be able to continue to mourn our son without malicious comments from others. But these news reports have only added to our distress.”

Martyn Hughes, a specialist lawyer with Fentons Solicitors LLP, is representing the Smith family.

“An inquest is a harrowing ordeal for any family, and any media coverage was going to be upsetting in itself,” he said, “but that notwithstanding, the way some of the reports have been presented is nothing short of outrageous.

“I understand that sensational witness evidence about high speeds and irresponsible behaviour make for good headlines, but when that evidence is contradicted by other witnesses, it seems wrong that only one side of the story is presented.

“The coroner was quite clear that evidence regarding the speed of the motorbikes and the exact circumstances of the incident was conflicting – indeed he had seen CCTV footage which completely contradicted some of the witnesses’ description of events - but to read some of the reports you would never have known. The family are understandably distressed by some of these reports, which they feel are misleading to say the least.

“As my clients consider their next course of action it would be inappropriate to offer any further comment, and we would request that the media now respect the family’s privacy.”