A DANGEROUS motorbike rider appeared in court over “ridiculous” speeding which led to the death of his pal.

Ben Ward was riding on his powerful blue Yamaha motorcycle on the A29 at Broadbridge Heath near Horsham.

The 29-year-old was seen overtaking vehicles “out of nowhere” along with David Baker, aged 39.

At Hove Crown Court, some witnesses who saw the men believed they were racing each other.

They described both men’s riding as “crazy” and “dangerous”, with some fearing the men were going to get themselves killed.

Ward admitted dangerous driving on his part, and was given a five-month suspended prison sentence.

Oliver Dunkin, prosecuting, said the incident happened on September 14, 2019.

He said other drivers were so concerned about the men’s riding that they sounded their car horns and flashed their lights to warn them to stop.

But the same drivers then described their shock at seeing the crash scene.

Mr Dunkin said as the pair of riders approached the hamlets of Clemsfold and Rowhook, a driver in a Jeep called Miranda Clowes, 56, had turned safely into the road after twice checking before pulling out.

Ward overtook her and was going so fast he was not able to stop at the roundabout, but Mr Baker was unable to avoid her vehicle on his black Kawasaki.

Ms Clowes and her passengers heard the thud as Mr Baker passed on the left-hand side of her vehicle.

Mr Dunkin said the riding involved “excessive speed” and crossing double white lines which forbid overtaking, and said te men may have shown “competitie riding” or “showing off”.

Mr Baker, a much-loved rider from Surrey, died at the scene. A fundraiser in his memory raised £2,000 Mr Baker at Ryka's Café, Dorking where he would often visit. Money was also put towards funeral costs as well as a plaque at Whiteways Café in Arundel.

Read more on The Argus:

Thomas Nicholson-Pratt, defending, said his client was not racing, but perhaps got carried away while out with his friend meeting up for the first time to enjoy riding their motorbikes together.

He said Ward, of Clyde Avenue, South Croydon, has previously been suicidal and has become a recluse after the incident.

His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold QC said: “This is obviously a tragic case and a matter of great sadness.

“Witnesses’ perception is obviously worsened when it results in a fatality. There was clearly grossly excessive speed and crossing the double white lines.”

The judge said Ward has no previous convictions and is not ultimately responsible for Mr Baker’s death.

Ward was banned from driving for 18 months and must take an extended retest before he is allowed back on the road.

He must also complete 20 rehabilitation sessions and 100 hours of unpaid work.

• For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here. And for the latest from the courts, like our dedicated Facebook group here.