The NSW Coroner has ruled on the death of a motorcyclist, who died after he hit a cow during a police operation near Coraki.
The NSW Coroner has ruled on the death of a motorcyclist, who died after he hit a cow during a police operation near Coraki. Marc Stapelberg

Police not to blame for motorcyclist's 'tragic death'

TWO police officers did all they could to prevent the "tragic death" of a motorcyclist who died after colliding with a cow during a police operation in northern NSW, a coroner has found.

A NSW coronial inquest has been examining the circumstances surrounding the death of Scott Bowden, 51, who died after his motorcycle collided with a stray cow late on the night of May 17, 2016, near Coraki.

When the collision occurred, two police officers from Casino were trying to keep cattle that had escaped from a nearby property off the road to make the area safe for motorists.

During the night-time operation, the officers saw the light of Mr Bowden's motorcycle approaching and flashed their lights to warn him about the hazard, but they did not turn their sirens on due to fears of startling the cattle.

Handing down her findings on Thursday, Deputy State Coroner Elizabeth Ryan described the actions of the officers involved as "reasonable and appropriate".

"They did all they could in the circumstances to prevent this tragic death," she said.

"Fog and darkness reduced the capacity for oncoming traffic to see the cows ahead.

"(The officers) utilised all available resources to alert approaching traffic, ensuring the headlights, roof-mounted lights and alley lights of their police vehicle were activated."

Police attend the scene where a motorcyclist was involved in a fatal accident on the Casino Coraki Road near Tatham after hitting a cow. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Police attend the scene where a motorcyclist was involved in a fatal accident on the Casino Coraki Road near Tatham after hitting a cow. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Coroner Ryan said the police also flashed their high beam as soon as they became aware of Mr Bowden's approach and were "perplexed" when he did not appear to slow down.

"I am of the view that the police response and conduct in relation to the strayed stock cannot be criticised. In the circumstances they were required to use initiative and remain flexible in their response."

She said it was likely the cow involved in the fatal accident was able to escape onto the Casino-Coraki road about 10km from Coraki because of damaged fences on the property where it was kept.

Coroner Ryan also found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Mr Bowden was travelling too fast for the conditions when the accident occurred, just after midnight.

"The court did not have the benefit of any expert evidence that travelling at a speed of at least 71km/h in the conditions that prevailed was excessive," she said.

"I make no findings as to whether at the time of the impact Mr Bowden was travelling at excessive speed for the conditions."

Concluding the inquest, the Coroner said she hoped the process had helped Mr Bowden's family to find some closure in the wake of the tragedy.

"I hope this inquest has provided Mr Bowden's son and daughter with some answers to their questions about their father's death." - NewsRegional



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