A motorcyclist who killed a pedestrian when he smashed into him at high speed on his off-road bike has been locked up.

James Mitchell was seen popping wheelies and overtaking cars as he raced along a road in excess of 66mph in the moments leading up to the fatal collision.

The 29-year-old hit Steven Roberts with such force that the impact resulted in the 43-year-old being pronounced dead at the scene near Darlington town centre.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Mitchell had bought the 350KTM off-road bike of the day of the fatal collision on February 11 last year and traces of cannabis were discovered in his bloodstream.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, the 29-year-old was travelling at about 60 mph at the time and the impact threw Mr Roberts into street furniture.

And despite the best efforts of medics, he was pronounced dead at the scene on the B6279 Haughton Road, near Bannatyne's, in Darlington.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The scene of the fatal collision on Haughton Road, Darlington, on February 11, 2023.The scene of the fatal collision on Haughton Road, Darlington, on February 11, 2023. (Image: Contributor)

Eye witnesses said Mitchell was travelling that fast that his front wheel left the road as he overtook a car at speed.

Mr Perks said: “An eyewitness was walking towards the oncoming direction of the defendant when they heard the approaching vehicle, he describes it as a dirt bike which was absolutely flying when it went past.”

The witness said he heard a screech, looked back, and could see the rear wheel locked up as the defendant was braking and out of control.

Another witness said Mitchell accelerated so quickly past the car they were travelling in that his front wheel left the ground.

Mr Perks said the defendant failed a drugs test after he was taken to hospital for treatment to his injuries.

The court heard how Mitchell had relevant previous conviction for motoring offences dating back to 2008, including taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, aggravated vehicle taking and failing to stop following an accident.

Darlington and Stockton Times: James MitchellJames Mitchell (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Mitchell, of Killinghall Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

John Griffiths, mitigating, said his client had apologised for his driving in his prepared statement and had no recollection of the incident.

He added: “His remorse has remained with him and has contributed to his current high-level of anxiety.

“He is remorseful, more than that, he is devastated that his actions have led to the death of an individual.”

Judge Nathan Adams told the defendant that the blame for the fatal collision ‘lies squarely’ on him.

He said: "The way you decided to ride that vehicle is what brings us here today. You had cannabis in your system but the driving itself was at high speed and clearly dangerous.

"I have watched the CCTV which quite clearly shows the build-up and the incident itself.

"It was clearly highly excessive speed and clearly dangerous overtaking vehicles at that speed and the incident was over in a split second."

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Click here

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The judge said he accepted that Mitchell tried to stop but it was 'far too little, far too late' and had been driving dangerously at the time and witnesses saw you doing wheelies on at least two occasions.

He said there was no blame to be placed on Mr Roberts, he tried to cross the road when it should have been safe to do so.

"The blame lies squarely on you in this case, I make that plain," he added.

Mitchell was jailed for ten and a half years and banned from driving for 14 years for killing Mr Stevens.