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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Bike hearse stopped by police
A motorcycling enthusiast almost missed his own funeral after police stopped the motorbike hearse his coffin was being carried on.

The body of 74-year-old biker Ronald Howell was being taken from Mere in Wiltshire to Yeovil Crematorium in Somerset in a specially-adapted sidecar attached to a Triumph 900.

But as the cortege travelled along the A303 police flagged it down, over concerns that the Rev Paul Sinclair, who was riding pillion, was not wearing a helmet.

Mr Sinclair, 37, then told police the hearse was not taxed as a motorcycle, and he did not have to wear a crash helmet.

He had never once been stopped by the police during his lifetime, but they managed to get him at his funeral
Rev Paul Sinclair
Officers held him up for a further 10 minutes while they took photos of the vehicle.

Mr Sinclair, from Whitwick, Leicestershire, runs Britain's only motorcycle hearse company, and has been nicknamed the Faster Pastor.

He said: "I don't mind that the officers pulled us over because they thought something was wrong and they were checking a safety issue. That's fair enough.

"But once I showed them the tax disc and explained that anyone using a vehicle that's over 410kg does not have to wear a helmet, that should have been it.

"We said we had to get to a funeral, but the officer wanted to do checks and wouldn't let us go for 10 minutes. I strongly object to that."

'Grossly insensitive'

Mr Sinclair described the taking of photographs by the officer as "grossly insensitive".

"I'm just glad the family were not following behind, because if they had seen a policeman taking photos of the coffin, it would have been very upsetting," he said.

Mr Sinclair added: "The irony is that the deceased was the only one wearing a crash helmet. It was placed on top of his coffin.

"He had never once been stopped by the police during his lifetime, but they managed to get him at his funeral."

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed the hearse had been stopped and that an officer took pictures of the vehicle. A spokesman said an investigation was continuing.

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