A Harley Davidson biker said he careered into a vintage sports car on a remote Perthshire road – causing £50,000 of damage – after suffering flashbacks to an earlier tragedy.
Bhupinder Lalli said he was haunted by memories of a 2019 crash in Slovakia, when a motorcyclist died in his arms.
The 51-year-old businessman said the thought of the tragic accident momentarily distracted him while riding through Highland Perthshire, causing him to smash his half-ton cycle into lawyer Nicholas Whyte’s £150,000 Jaguar E-type.
The collision, on the A93 Blairgowrie to Braemar road, near Spittal of Glenshee, left Mr Whyte’s wife Helen with a suspected broken sternum.
Lalli, who runs a string of dry cleaning businesses in the central belt, was found guilty of causing the collision on September 6, 2020, by driving without due care and attention.
He went on trial at Perth Sheriff Court last month, accused of dangerous driving – a charge he had refuted.
‘King of cruises’
The court heard Mr Whyte, a partner in Forfar-based MacHardy, Alexander & Whyte, had gone out for a drive with his wife in the sunshine.
He told the trial he swerved onto a grass verge to avoid another “racing” motorbike, moments before his 55-year-old car was struck by Lalli’s £27K Harley.
Mr Whyte, 71, said Lalli’s machine was “going extremely fast” and “wholly on the wrong side of the road”.
“I would say it was out of control,” he told the trial.
Father-of-two Lalli rejected claims he was speeding.
“My bike was not designed for racing,” he said.
“They are for cruises. Its the king of cruises.
“If I was speeding I wouldn’t be here, I would be dead.”
He said: “This racing bike whooshed past me, just prior to the bend in the road.
“The Jaguar then swerved to avoid the other rider.
“All I could think was: Oh no, not again.”
Asked by solicitor Steven Farmer what he meant, Lalli explained that a year earlier he had organised a motorcycle run through Europe for 18 bikers.
He said three other bikers had rode alongside the group.
One of them crashed in front of him, as they rode through heavy rain in Slovakia.
“He took his last breath in front of me.”
— Bhupinder Lalli.
“He came off the road and his bike went into a ditch.
“He went into a brick wall and died there and then.
“He was only about 20 or 30 yards in front of me.
“I went down to his body and I undid his helmet.
“The minute I did that, he died.
“He took his last breath in front of me.
“That’s what I meant by ‘not again’.
“I was momentarily distracted by the other rider.”
The trial earlier heard Lalli was thrown from his bike and injured but was able to sit up and apologise to Mr Whyte.
No independent witnesses
Mr Farmer told the court his client had suffered PTSD as a result of his experience in 2019.
He added: “It’s not in dispute that there was a collision and it’s not disputed that he was on the wrong side of the road.
“But that on its own does not mean that his driving was dangerous.”
Sheriff Richard McFarlane told Lalli: “We don’t have a bystander here.
“There is no independent witness.
“I think that your position regarding speed is supported by evidence that you were not going as fast as was suggested.
“I am not persuaded that you drove at excessive speeds, on the wrong side of the road and on blind bends.
“I am of the view that the test of dangerous driving has not been met but I find you guilty of driving without due care and attention, or due consideration for other road users.”
The court heard Lalli, of Broompark Drive, Newton Mearns, had previous convictions for driving offences.
He was fined £600 and had seven points imposed on his license.
The Jaguar E-type was produced between 1961 and 1975 and quickly became an established icon of the motoring world thanks to its combination of strong looks and high performance.
The series 1 cars were produced between 1961 and 1968 and are by far the most valuable and desirable, and fully restored versions of the 1967 model can fetch upwards of £150,000.