A popular young man who “made everyone smile” was killed in a horrific motorcycle accident just weeks after he was given the machine.
Christie-Joe Couzens, 22, was riding the yellow Triumph Daytona 995cc his step-grandfather had given him along Branch Bank, Prickwillow, when it was involved in a collision with a white Volkswagen estate vehicle.
Mr Couzens, a former Ely College student and who was studying a painting and decorating course at Cambridge Regional College, died as a result of his injuries in the collision, which happened at around 5.50pm on May 25 last year.
An inquest into his death was held before William Morris, coroner for North and East Cambridgeshire, on Wednesday (January 8).
The inquest heard that Mr Couzens, who lived with his long-term partner Michaela Waugh, in Parsons Lane, Littleport, was on his way to the Swan on the River pub in Littleport when the accident happened.
His friends Shane Benton and Paul Moden were travelling there too on their motorcycles and their friend, Mark Wright, was driving a Nissan van.
Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Wright said: “We’d all met up in Queen Adelaide and were on our way to the Swan in Littleport.
“As we were driving along Branch Bank, Shane overtook me on his motorbike and Christie did a little while later.
“I was driving at around 55mph and neither of them were going any faster. No cars were coming towards us when they overtook.
“We continued driving and all of a sudden Christie’s bike started to wobble from side to side and it then veered into the other lane.
“A car was coming towards us on the correct side of the road and I saw Christie’s bike hit it. I called 999 straight away. I really can’t explain why Christie lost control of the bike.”
In a statement, Mr Benton said: “Christie wasn’t going fast. The road is too bumpy to go fast.
“There was a slight wobble when he overtook Mark’s van but he soon sorted it out and none of us were worried.
“I then got to the Swan. When Christie didn’t arrive I walked over the hill, looked back and saw smoke and a white car on its roof. I did fear the worse.”
A post mortem examination showed Christie-Joe died at the scene of multiple injuries, mainly to his skull. There were no traces of alcohol or drugs in his body.
Pc David Halling, collision investigator for Cambridgeshire Police, said there was no evidence to suggest Mr Couzens was speeding when the collision occurred.
He said: “There are numerous reasons why motorcycles can become unstable on a road.
“I consider the most likely cause here to be harsh acceleration on an uneven road surface, which is typical of a Fen road and would have caused the motorcycle to wobble.
“It is important to stress that harsh acceleration does not necessary mean Mr Couzens was travelling at high speed, and there was certainly no evidence to suggest that he was.
“I do feel a lack of riding experience and familiarity with the bike may have contributed to the collision.”
Mr Morris recorded a verdict that Mr Couzens died as a result of a road traffic collision.
Mr Couzens leaves his mum and dad, Colin and Tina, and three siblings, Jodie-Leigh, 26, Tara-Louise, 22, and Codie-James, 20.
Speaking after the inquest, Colin and Tina said: “We are an extremely close family and we will never get over Christie-Joe’s death.
“He was someone who made everyone smile. He was so funny, so likeable and he had his whole future ahead of him.”
The driver of the Volkswagen, a 40-year-old woman from Burwell, suffered serious injuries in the collision and was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by air ambulance.
Her passenger, a 41-year-old woman from Burwell, suffered minor injuries.