A MOTORCYCLIST was handed a prison sentence after admitting causing death by dangerous driving near Betws-y-Coed.

Jonathon Godfree, 62, of Canada Way, Liphook, Hampshire, had pleaded guilty to causing the death of Jason Bown after a crash on the A5 on September 7, 2021.

At Caernarfon Crown Court today (January 23), Godfree was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment.

Prosecuting, Brian Treadwell told the court of how, at 1.37pm on the day in question, a fatal crash occurred involving Godfree, riding a Honda Africa twin motorcycle, and Bown, on a Harley-Davidson bike.

Godfree was riding as part of tour of the area with a group, who issued a statement indicating that their routes and locations were pre-arranged.

He was travelling eastbound along A5, with Bown, a 52-year-old painter and decorator from Derbyshire, riding westbound on the opposite side of the road.


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Godfree approached a Mazda and BMW vehicles ahead of him, and crossed into the opposite lane to overtake them.

Both Godfree and Bown held driving licences, and were described as experienced motorcyclists, riding bikes which were in “good order”.

Indeed, there was no evidence found of any driver impairment, use of telephone, drink or drugs, or mechanical defect.

The speed limit was 60mph, with Bown having driven at roughly 52-53mph for most of the way.

He was travelling near to the centre line of the road, but correctly placed as he approached a bend.

It was as he approached this bend that Godfree attempted to overtake the two vehicles ahead of him, and at that point, found himself on the wrong side of road.

He and Bown hit one another, and though Bown was initially conscious, he had suffered significant injuries, and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

A forensic collision investigator said the accident was “unavoidable” on Bown’s part.

Godfree suffered significant, but not life-threatening, injuries, including the loss of skin and nerve damage.

The investigator stated that the crash occurred as a result of him “executing an inappropriate manoeuvre”.

Speed was not a factor, with Godfree driving at roughly 40mph at the time.

At the scene, Godfree said “It’s all my fault; I am to blame”.

He was told at the scene about Bown’s death, which left him “devastated” and caused him to break down.

Godfree, who had no previous convictions, was interviewed numerous times at St Asaph Police Station following his discharge from hospital.

He stated that he had had clean driving licence, and was on a touring break with friends, describing it as having been “a relaxed trip”.

A witness described Godfree’s actions as a “daft piece of driving”.

Victim statements were provided to the court from Bown’s sister and mother.

Her sister described September 7, 2021 as the day when her “happy life ended, and my nightmare began. That’s when the sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, heartache and shock took hold.”

She added: “I cry every day. I’m so lost without my brother. I feel like I’ve lost half of myself, as we were very close.

“My heart is shattered. I’m totally destroyed and depleted.”

Losing her brother has caused her physical issues, she added, including numbness down the left side of her face due to the clenching of her jaw.

She said: “The hurt of seeing my mum so devastated by Jason’s death makes me (feel) so useless and worthless, knowing there’s nothing I can do to make it better or easier.

“I just want to tell him I love him, and he was the best brother that I could ever have asked for.”

Bown’s mother described the day her son died as “by far the most traumatic day of my life”.

He had lived at her home with her, making financial contributions to household bills, as well as cooking and shopping for her.

Extracts from her statement read: “There have been many times over this year that I’ve wanted to end the pain and suffering. I feel so depressed. I miss Jason so much.

“As a mother, you don’t think about having to lay your child to rest before you, and travelling miles to identify his lifeless, cold body.

“My home doesn’t feel like a home anymore. It is empty and lifeless, just like me.

“I cry hysterically while smelling his pillow, wondering what I have done in life to deserve such a cruel thing.”

Defending, Tyrone Smith said Godfree, who pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, had shown genuine remorse.

His biking group were said to have been riding for more than two decades together, and were “not a group who had bad practices”.

He added that Godfree has written a letter to Bown’s family, and has not rode a motorcycle again since the incident.

Godfree has only driven a car when absolutely necessary since, and plans to never ride a motorcycle again.

Bown was also described as a “vastly experienced” motorcyclist, having passed his test as a teenager.

Smith said: “There’s nothing I can say today that will alter those feelings of loss, which we know will remain with Mr Bown’s family forever.

“There was no suggestion of anything untoward that day. They had made a trip from their base camp to Snowdon, before heading back.

“The tragic irony is, had they met at a café, they doubtless would have looked at each other’s bikes and talked about a shared passion.

“There’s nothing to think that these gentlemen wouldn’t have got on with one another.”

Godfree’s normal riding position in the group was at the rear, as he was regarded as a “sensible figure”, while his fellow riders often nicknaming him “dad” or “Captain Sensible”.

Smith said Godfree “remains at a loss to completely understand what he did that day, and to explain why he took the decisions he did”.

He added that it was: “So at odds with everything known about him, with everyone whos’ ridden with him for thousands of miles over many years.

“There is nothing in his behaviour, or anything identified, to suggest he wanted to drive dangerously.

“There has been, on his part, a loss of concentration and/or road awareness, with the most tragic of consequences for which he will never forgive himself.”

Godfree’s injuries included a pre-tibial laceration which required surgery, an extensive fracture to the hand, and three fractured ribs.

But Smith said the mental injuries Godfree has suffered are the “most deep and painful”, with a “complete sense of personal devastation and regret”.

He has been prescribed antidepressants, and tries to manage his mental health by exercising, while his character references were described by Smith as “glowing”.

Though Smith accepted a punishment must be imposed, he encouraged the issuing of a suspended sentence, adding: “A man who, for 16 months, has been punishing himself, will continue to punish himself.”

Sentencing, Judge Niclas Parry ordered Godfree to serve half of his 16-month prison sentence, before being released on licence for 12 months.

He was disqualified from driving for two years and eight months, and must first pass an extensive re-test before being allowed to drive again.

A surcharge was also imposed.

Senior Investigating Officer, Sergeant Emlyn Hughes of the Roads Policing Unit said: “A family have been truly devastated by their loss of a much-loved son, brother and nephew and our thoughts are very much with them at this difficult time.

“This was a completely avoidable collision in which Godfree had attempted to overtake two vehicles on a blind bend.

"He now has to live with the knowledge that his actions has resulted in the death of a much-loved man.

"This is a tragic case that once again shows how vitally important it is for motorcyclists to give their complete and unreserved attention whilst riding on the roads.”