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156mph biker filmed death crash of friend

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: June 12, 2009

  • Fred Bowden films the ride from his motorcycle


A MOTORCYCLIST who chased and filmed his best friend at speeds of more than 170mph before he was killed in a road smash has walked free from court.

Fred Bowden, 42, strapped a camera to his bike and followed Andrew Prowse, 46, as the pair broke the speed limit 30 times in 20 minutes.

Bowden filmed his best mate for 25 miles until he clipped a hatchback car on his Kawasaki ZX10R and was thrown under an oncoming camper van.

The horrific smash – in which Mr Prowse died instantly after his legs and head were ripped off – was caught on camera by Bowden. A father-of-four, Bowden, was then knocked off his own Kawasaki 1000cc ZX10-R by the flying wreckage of Mr Prowse's machine.

It later emerged Bowden was clocked at a top speed of 156mph – the fastest ever caught in the Devon and Cornwall force area – but his speedometer had reached speeds of 170mph, Truro Crown Court heard.

The court was told that Bowden was caught speeding 30 times, including riding 70mph in a 40mph limit, 100mph in a 60mph limit and 124mph in a 70mph limit.

Bowden, of Helston, Cornwall, had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving, but escaped a jail term yesterday.

He was given a 51-week jail sentence suspended for two years, fined £190 and disqualified from driving for three years.

The prison sentence was suspended after Mr Prowse's family asked the court to show lenience because he and Bowden were close friends

Judge Christopher Elwen told him: "This wild ride came to an end with the tragic death of your long-time and close friend, Andrew Prowse.

"What has been seen on the video was a prolonged course of dangerous driving with grossly high speeds and inappropriate overtaking.

"Motorists were alarmed and afraid for their lives. You will have to live with this for the rest of your life.

"In view of exceptionally powerful mitigation, I will suspend the prison term for two years."

The accident happened on July 12 last year. Mr Prowse – a friend since schooldays – arrived at Bowden's house and suggested they go for a ride. He then fitted his video camera to Bowden's petrol tank and the pair raced along the A30 in Tolvaddon, Camborne.

During the chase, Mr Prowse, also of Helston, overtook a Ford Mondeo at 100mph, clipped a hatchback and was thrown under a van. He became "tangled up" in the vehicle's wheels, was decapitated and lost both of his legs.

Off-duty St Ives policeman James Gallienne found a scene of "blood and unrecognisable body parts" and immediately called 999, the court heard.

The officer told a previous hearing: "I could see a small video camera mounted on the fuel tank of the black bike – I could see it was still running."

At an inquest into Andrew's death, the couple driving the camper van, Michael and Julia Clements, said they were "traumatised" by the accident. Mr Clements, an artist, said: "That scene will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Robert Linford, defending Bowden, said: "Nobody can punish him as much as he has punished himself. They had ridden together a lot.

"Mr Prowse was known to the defendant since their school days. They were best friends and their families were close. He must now live with the knowledge of what happened to his friend."

Bowden was given a suspended sentence after Mr Prowse's parents told the court he hadn't meant for the ride to end in tragedy. Sidney and Daphne Prowse said: "What happened was not his fault. He is a man who would do anything for anyone. He is an extremely good man."

A spokesman for speed charity Brake described the suspended sentence as a "nonsense" and a "complete let-off", adding: "When somebody has consistently and deliberately broken the speed limit to this degree they deserve to be punished."

In March, 47-year-old motorcyclist Robert Bennett was jailed for six months after being caught overtaking a police van at 122mph with his 14-year-old son riding pillion. Bennett, of Barnstaple, North Devon, was released after serving eight weeks and three days.

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