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16-year-old boy sentenced after admitting manslaughter of motorcyclist

A 16-year-old boy is beginning a sentence of three years and two months for the manslaughter of 20-year-old Michael Rice in Hartcliffe earlier this year.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Michael, from Knowle, was riding a stolen Honda CBR around Fulford Road on Friday 5 April. The jury were told he was riding the high-powered motorbike at more than 50mph along the 20 mph road and pulling wheelies.

The prosecutor, Adam Vaitilingam QC, said a crowd of young people gathered and there was talk of putting things in the road.

CCTV showed a young man in a grey hooded top dragging a yellow bicycle into the path of the motorbike. A specialist collision investigator explained that Michael had no time to react and lost control after clipping the bicycle. The motorbike collided with a parked van and Michael, who was not wearing a helmet, died at the scene.

A local PC identified the suspect, then aged 15, from the CCTV footage. The boy initially denied charges of murder, manslaughter and causing a danger to road users.

On the fifth day of evidence in the trial, he entered a guilty plea to manslaughter.

In mitigation the defence counsel said the defendant was and remains “horrified by the unintended consequences of his act”. He described the boy as “damaged and complex” following his childhood experiences.

Passing sentence His Honour Judge Blair said: “Michael Rice should not have lost his life. Nothing can bring him back. Whatever sentence I pass will be cheap compared with the value of his life. There is only one possible type of sentence for this grave crime – detention.”

Senior Investigating Officer DCI James Riccio said: “This tragic case will have a lasting impact on the community. I would like to once more extend my condolences to Michael’s family, who have shown such courage and dignity in the face of the harrowing details given in court.

“We appreciate that to Michael’s family and the wider community this sentence may seem lenient. We are now looking to consider making a formal appeal to have the sentence reviewed.

“I must however thank the young witnesses whose evidence has been so important in helping us to understand what happened that day. I hope they can now learn to put what they saw behind them and move on with their lives.”

Michael Rice
Michael Rice

Michael’s mum Donna Rice said:

“My blue-eyed boy, Mike was a caring and loving son, brother, grandson and friend. He had a heart of gold. He would help anyone. He loved his motorbikes from a young age. Mike wasn’t a saint, he made some bad choices, but he didn’t deserve to lose his life at such a young age. He had such a bright future ahead of him.

“It has been six months since Mike has left us. Our family has been ripped apart. It’s imprinted on my mind and will affect me for the rest of my life. I’m so devastated that I will never get to see my son marry and have children.

“His little sister Porsha has a teddy bear and she named it Mike and sprayed the teddy with Hugo Boss, Mike’s favourite aftershave. Sophie, Mike’s girlfriend, has been by my side since Mike left us, we support each other every day.

“I’ve been at court every day since the start of the trial. I’ve had to relive it all over again, hearing and seeing things. It’s been very painful and heart-breaking. I’ve struggled every day to come to court, but we all want justice for Mike my boy.

“Mike, I am counting down the days until I see you again. One day we will all be together again but until that day I will be forever heartbroken.”