Three men jailed for killing member of rival motorcycle club

Three motorcycle gang members who killed a lone biker after spotting him riding on their patch wearing rival club colours have been jailed.

David Crawford, 59, from Ivybridge, Devon, was hit from behind by a white van on the St Budeaux slip road in Plymouth, and dragged for almost 1km along the A38.

Benjamin Parry, 42, and Chad Brading, 36, both from Plymouth, and Thomas Pawley, 32, from Ivybridge, were convicted of manslaughter.

Motorcycle gang court case
Benjamin Parry (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

During their trial at Plymouth Crown Court, jurors were shown footage of Mr Crawford riding his black Kawasaki before it was stopped by Pawley and Bradin, in a Mercedes car.

Parry, driving his work Ford Transit van, drove into the back of Mr Crawford’s motorbike as it was being obstructed.

Grandfather Mr Crawford was pinned under the van and dragged underneath until Parry turned off at the next junction, almost 1km away.

The court heard that Parry, Pawley and Brading were members of the Devon-based Bandidos Motorcycle Club, while Mr Crawford was a member of a rival chapter – the Cornwall-based Red Chiefs Motorcycle Club.

Motorcycle gang court case
Chad Brading (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

Mr Justice Garnham jailed Parry for 12 years, and Pawley and Brading for four years each. He described the killing as “senseless” and an act of “unaccountable stupidity”.

He told the defendants at Exeter Crown Court: “The three of you were members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club.

“You were alerted to the fact that members of two other motorcycle clubs, the Hells Angels and their supporters, the Red Chiefs, had congregated at a retail park in Plymouth and were ‘flying their colours’ – in other words wearing jackets or ‘cuts’ displaying the insignia of their clubs.

“In the infantile world of such motorcycle clubs, to ride a motorbike in a neighbouring county displaying your colours is, it seems, to cause great offence to the club that considers that county its home territory.

Motorcycle gang court case
Thomas Pawley (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

“You were each contacted by the ‘Sergeant at Arms’ of your club about the presence of these other clubs, and you each took to the streets of Plymouth.”

The court heard that all but one of the motorbikes from the clubs were seen crossing the border into Cornwall, with Mr Crawford heading back at toll booths back into Devon.

The judge continued: “You all agreed that the lone motorcyclist should be stopped, told it was not acceptable for him to ride in his Cornish Red Chief colours in Devon and given what is colloquially called as a ‘slap’ to underline the point.

“By a ‘slap’ I mean a punch or the like, an assault that would cause him some relatively minor injury or pain.”

However, footage described as “sickening” by the judge captured the moment Parry – driving between 10mph and 27mph – drove into the back of Mr Crawford’s motorbike, throwing him into the air.

Motorcycle gang court case
Dashcam footage of Chad Brading and Thomas Pawley stopping David Crawford on the St Budeaux slip road (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

Parry did not stop despite knowing he had struck Mr Crawford, and drove on with him trapped beneath the van on a “ghastly journey”, the judge said.

Mr Crawford was then “propelled” from under the van as Parry turned off the dual carriageway but the defendants continued to drive home, Parry in the van and Pawley and Brading in the car.

The judge said: “Mr Crawford was utterly innocent in all this. He had just been out for a ride on his bike with friends in the motorbike clubs.

“Neither he nor his fellow bikers had done anything wrong that evening. You three had absolutely no business trying to dictate who rode their bikes in Devon or what they wore when doing so.”

He said Mr Crawford’s family, including his wife, daughters and granddaughter, had been “devastated by his senseless killing”.

The judge, referring to mitigation for the defendants, said none of them had a history of similar offending and there was “no evidence” the Bandidos had a history of violence.

Motorcycle gang court case
Dashcam footage of David Crawford’s bike after it was hit by a Ford Transit van (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

He added: “Pawley and Brading did not plan or intend what happened on this occasion. For Parry it was a moment of unaccountable stupidity.”

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Rob Smith of Devon and Cornwall Police said Parry was initially arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving before dashcam footage showed it was “no accident”.

“David Crawford has been described as the life and soul of the party,” Mr Smith said.

“A funny, caring and protective family man who was deeply loved. The impact of David’s death has been significant.

“I hope these sentences will provide at least some comfort that justice has been done and allow David’s family to move on from this terrible incident.”