Tragic death of Joe ‘Cheek’ Cannon - inquest

Farewell to Joe Cannon
Farewell to Joe Cannon

A teenage biker from who was killed after he smashed into a van was seen performing wheelies and driving dangerously in the hour before his death.

Joe ‘Cheek’ Cannon died two days after the accident in Hucknall on July 31 this year.

Joe 'Cheek' Cannon

Joe 'Cheek' Cannon

An inquest heard that the cause of his death was traumatic brain injury and that the 16-year-old had not been wearing a helmet, only a balaclava.

Mark Purbick, the driver of the van, told the inquest how he was driving along the junction of Shaw’s Crescent and Robin Hood’s Drive when he looked up and saw the motorbike. A second later the bike hit the van.

Coroner Mairin Casey said: “Joe was a young man who was passionately interested in motorcycles. On the day of his death he died driving in the manner of someone who doesn’t see the dangers to himself and others.

“He may or may not have been affected by cannabis taken some hours before the event. He was driving without a helmet - a fact which might have resulted in a completely different outcome - and he was driving in a manner which was entirely reckless of his own safety.

“That is especially poignant after his mother reiterated the dangers of driving without a helmet.

“The one single message which must come from this inquest is that young people who are tempted to drive in this manner must not.”

PC Colin Thomas, of the forensic collision investigation unit, said that Mr Purbick’s breathalyser test was clear and he could not have avoided what happened. Mr Purbick had the right of way.

He added that Joe’s blood had tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, and this could have affected his ability to assess speed and his overall judgement.

Joe Cannon.

Joe Cannon.

Unable to pinpoint speed, he said the impact of the bike had ‘enough energy to move a two-tonne transit van sideways. It was a considerable impact.’

He said: “Even though the van was travelling very slowly Mr Purbrick would only have had one second to react. He would not have been able to break in that second. Neither driver nor rider could see each other until the collision was unavoidable.”

Joe’s motorbike was removed from the scene and later recovered at the back of a nearby house. Tests proved neither the bike, nor the van, were defective in any way.

PC Thomas told the inquest the accident was ‘an avoidable situation’ and stressed how wearing a helmet could have saved the youngster’s life.

Detective Constable Paul Jaycock, of the serious collisions investigation unit, paid tribute to Joe’s parents who ‘gave me very useful information despite their tremendous grief’ during his inquiry.

The inquest heard how Joe had inherited his father Darren Mitchell’s passion for mechanics and had developed an interest in buying bikes and fixing them up before selling them on. He also studied to be a mechanic at a college in Sherwood.

Joe was described as a ‘lovable rogue’ and a ‘Jack-the-lad’ character who ‘would help anyone out’ and had many friends.

As far as Darren was aware Joe always wore a helmet when riding his bikes, although he conceded that he didn’t know what Joe did all the time.

Two days before the accident Joe bought a white Honda CRF bike for off-roading from a friend called Wayne Jeffreys.

Mr Jeffreys told police he saw Joe riding the bike along Watnall Road the night before his death at about 10.30pm without a helmet and wearing a bandanna or mask over his face. The off-road bike was not equipped with lights and Mr Jeffreys advised Joe to wear a helmet.

On the day of the accident he received a text from Joe about the bike’s clutch, which was slipping.Mr Jeffreys repaired the clutch and later saw Joe riding over the speed bumps in the park near Nabb’s Lane.

Mr Jeffreys told Joe to take the bike home, but claimed the youngster was ‘laughing his head off’ and said: “I am a rider!”

Nottinghamshire police received five independent reports of a youth, later established as Joe, riding an off-road motor-bike in Hucknall in the hour before the accident.

Three callers from the Titchfield Park area said the rider was not wearing a helmet and all three were concerned for the safety of children playing in the park.

Several callers reported the rider performed wheelies while riding ‘erratically’ and ‘dangerously’, sometimes on the wrong side of the road.

One caller reported narrowly missing the rider as he came around a bend and described his driving as ‘gung-ho’ and ‘without any thought for anyone else.’

Joe’s mother Kirsty Cannon reluctantly lent him £200 towards the cost ‘after Joe had begged and pleaded with her, although she hated motor-bikes.’

She knew of two helmets around the house that Joe could have used and a third he could have borrowed from a friend.

She told police officers: “That’s what makes me so mad - that he wasn’t wearing a helmet.”

Ms Casey told her: “It’s clear from the evidence that that was one of your horrors - of Joe riding a motorbike without a helmet.”

She ruled that Joe died in a road traffic accident.