A PEUGEOT driver faces jail after a jury found him guilty of causing the death of a popular Penhill motorcyclist.

The Swindon jury convicted Paul Middleton of causing the death by careless driving of Luke Chapman on Penhill Drive.

The 28-year-old died in June last year when he was thrown from his bike and struck Middleton’s front bumper. Mr Chapman, a dad-of-two, died at the scene.

Middleton – who was three times over the cannabis drug-drive limit - denied he had been driving without due care and attention, with his lawyers pointing to the dangerous manner of Mr Chapman’s riding in the run up to the crash on June 18.

The banned driver was said to have been riding at twice the speed limit on a stolen and uninsured 750cc bike. Several witnesses described seeing Mr Chapman pull a wheelie shortly before he slammed on his brakes causing him to come off the motorcycle and slide into the path of the white Peugeot 208.

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Paul Middleton outside Swindon Crown Court

But after a two-day trial at Swindon Crown Court, the jury found Middleton guilty of causing death by careless driving while over the cannabis driving limit.

Closing the prosecution case, Hannah Squire said: “Stated very simply, Paul Middleton saw the bike. He saw Luke Chapman riding down Penhill Drive, but nevertheless he chose to pull out from Durnford Road into Penhill Drive – into the path of Luke Chapman on his motorbike.

“Regardless of the manner of the riding of the bike by Luke Chapman this collision and the death of Luke Chapman needn’t have happened had Paul Middleton taken a little more care at the junction.

“His decision to pull out from Durnford Road at the point he did was quite literally fatal.”

Sushil Kumar, for Middleton, questioned the speeds and distances set out by the Crown. He highlighted the manner in which Mr Chapman had been riding the bike, in particular the fact he had been pulling a wheelie on an underinflated back tyre shortly before the crash.

“It would have been a Herculean task to keep that motorcycle under control travelling at that speed,” Mr Kumar said.

An eyewitness recalled seeing Mr Chapman pulling the wheelie. In a statement read to the court she said: “I would describe the manner of driving as dangerous.”

Middleton, 25, of Bramwell Close, was bailed by Judge Jason Taylor QC. He will be sentenced at Swindon Crown Court on January 23.

In a tribute released after Luke’s death, his family wrote: “Luke is loved by many and has already left a huge hole in our hearts. He has touched our lives and created many happy memories that will be cherished and shared with his two beautiful children.

“He will be remembered for his cheeky sense of humour, his smile, hugs and love of bikes.

“Luke is going to be missed so much it cannot even be described.”