Afghanistan hero was speeding on bike
A SHEFFIELD soldier who had survived two tours in Afghanistan was over the drink-drive limit when he crashed his high-powered motorbike and died, an inquest heard.
Sapper Andrew Roberts had passed his motorcycle test weeks earlier and had drunk twice the UK limit when he crashed in Hameln, near his German base.
Investigators found the 25-year-old had been speeding when he hit the kerb on a bend at a bridge. His pillion passenger Spr Mark Allen was seriously injured,
Assistant Deputy Coroner Donald Coutts-Wood recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Former Ecclesfield School pupil Spr Roberts, whose parents Martin Roberts and Marion Pretsell, from Chapeltown, were at the inquest, suffered multiple injuries including skull and spinal fractures.
He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, at Thiewall-Brücke. His blood alcohol content was three times the German drink drive limit.
Mr Coutts-Wood said: “The motorcycle being ridden by Spr Roberts was being driven above the speed limit over the bridge. There is some evidence it was not negotiating the bend very well.
“It was in contact with the kerb, leading to the exit of the two passengers, causing catastrophic injuries to Spr Roberts.”
Spr Roberts and Spr Allen, from Sunderland, were thrown about 20 metres hitting the railings of the bridge. They had been on their way to a military open day at another base two miles away.
Accident investigators found the bike, a black 600cc Suzuki GXR, was severely damaged at the front on impact with the kerb and from sliding along the ground.
It was estimated the bike had been travelling at up to 91 kilometres per hour - almost 60mph.
The speed limit was 50kph, slightly less than 30mph. The speed on impact was estimated at 60-78kph.
Shocked eyewitness Stefan Luweke, coming the other way in a four-wheel drive vehicle, told British Royal Military Police of the collision.
In his statement he said: “The motorcycle was travelling fast. As a motorcycle rider myself, I could tell the tilt of the motorcycle was not consistent with negotiating the bend - it was too upright.
“I thought something was bound to go wrong. Shortly after the motorcycle passed me, it collided with the kerb. Both people on the motorcycle were thrown off and collided with the bridge railing.”
Other civilians and soldiers stopped to help. Spr Leon Caine tried giving chest compressions on Spr Roberts but a German doctor pronounced him dead at the scene.
The inquest heard Spr Roberts had been out drinking the previous night and had not returned to barracks until 7am to 8am, two hours before the crash.
Friend Raymond Sawyer, of the German guard service at Gordon Barracks, Hameln, where Spr Roberts was based, said he seen him minutes before he left the base and smelled alcohol on his breath.
But Spr Roberts said he was going to take a minibus to the open day, where he was to give a demonstration of bridge-building. Spr Roberts’ parents declined to comment.
Spr Roberts, a member of 23 Amphibious Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment, had been in the Army for six years, joining at the same time as his younger brother Sam.
They both served as electricians in the Royal Engineers.
Spr Roberts, who was buried with full military honours after a funeral at St Mary’s Church, Ecclesfield, had only returned from his second tour in Afghanistan in March last year - three months before the accident on June 26.