'Tragic' deaths of two people in collision on Northamptonshire road accidental, inquest rules

Shirley McClements
Shirley McClements

An inquest heard how two people were killed on a Northamptonshire road when a motorbike travelling at 118mph barrelled into a car.

Steve Atkins, 51, from Coventry, died “almost instantly” when his motorbike collided with a Skoda driven by Shirley McClements, 60, outside Jacks Hill Cafe on the A5 in Towcester on Mother's Day (March 26) this year.

Steve Atkins

Steve Atkins

Shirley, from Nether Heyford, was killed after the car burst into flames on impact with the bike. She was on her way to Mother’s Day lunch with her son.

A coroner ruled the two “tragic” deaths were accidental at an inquest on August 30.

Families gasped when evidence revealed Steven’s motorbike had been travelling at nearly twice the speed limit before the crash.

Paul Gorman was out riding with Steven on the day of the accident at around 12.30pm.

In a statement read out by the coroner, he said: “We were travelling on the A5 when Steven overtook two cars in front of us. I didn’t follow.

“I heard an extremely loud bang and saw a plume of black smoke. I saw Steve’s bike up against a car in the road. It was on fire, and Steve was lying on the opposite side of the road.”

Shirley was turning out of the car park of Jacks Hill Cafe when Steven crashed into the driver’s side door.

Evidence showed the bike could only have been visible to Shirley for around three seconds before it hit her car.

Another motorbike rider, Roy Davies, was also waiting to leave the junction and witnessed the impact. He said: “It was clear when the Skoda exited into the road.

“He drove straight into her. The bike burst into flames.

“I rushed over to the car. Flames were pouring out. I tried to open the door but the flames drove me back.”

Despite efforts by a policeman and a member of staff from the cafe to fight the fire with an extinguisher, nothing could be done.

Shirley was a mother of four and had two granddaughters, one of whom was born on the Wednesday before her death.

Speaking in the days after the accident, her eldest son Ian said: “To us, she was just ‘mum’, but clearly to a lot of people she was a bit special and we took her for granted a bit. She was a great mum and grandmother.”

She had been on her way for Mother’s Day lunch with her family when she died.

Ian said: “She was clearly taken to soon. For the family, it’s devastating - she’s here one day and gone the next.

“She was always up to something with the grandchildren. There are lots of memories to share.

Steve’s father Leslie Atkins said: “Steven was an engineer and was very well regarded by his colleagues and boss. Everyone from his workplace came to his funeral.

“He will be dearly missed by his partner, family, and many friends and colleagues.”