THE tree that killed a King’s Somborne motorcyclist was “dead from top to bottom”, an inquest heard.

Jake Podesta, 28, was riding along an unlit section of Greatbridge Road, in Romsey, when he was struck by the horse chestnut tree.

An inquest heard that although conditions were damp on the evening of September 14, there was no wind, rain, or any other factor that could have caused the fall.

A report from investigator PC Emma Clifford said that the cause lay with the poor condition of the tree: “The tree had not uprooted but had fractured part way up the trunk. The tree was dry and crumbling, consistent with rot.”

A report by Michael Ripley, arboricultural officer for Hampshire County Council, said that the tree was clearly dead, and could have been for several years.

However, Mark Weal, arboricultural officer for the county council, told the inquest that previous checks of trees in the area had followed best practice and that it had shown no signs of defects when last checked in 2014.

He said: “When a tree is dead the wood will deteriorate, but different trees do so at different rates.”

Christopher Bone, who witnessed the accident, said that there was nothing Mr Podesta could have done, and that prior to the collision he was driving like “Captain Sensible”.

Despite attempts by passing motorists and paramedics to save the shop worker, of Muss Lane, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem by Dr Adnan Al-Badri said Mr Podesta died of severe neck injuries.

Senior coroner Grahame Short said that the tree could have fallen at any time. “It was a case of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time and unfortunately Jake was in that place,” he said, concluding the death was an accident.

The police have said that although the tree was on private land, they were not pursuing any further investigations against the owner, as the act of the tree falling was not intentional. Although the owner had a common law duty to make sure people on their land were not injured this did not extend to the public highway.

Shortly after his death Mr Podesta’s family paid tribute: “Jake was a beloved son and brother who put a smile on many a face with his quick-witted humour and jovial attitude, which spilled over into his ability to write rap music about many life situations. He will be sorely missed.”

Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport at the county council, said: “I was very sorry to hear of this accident and my thoughts are with the young man’s family and friends. The tree was on private land. The coroner had no recommendations in relation to the county council’s highway inspections. The council will continue inspecting trees on the public highway according to its policy based on national guidance and will take appropriate action where safety defects are identified.”

The tree owner, Test Valley Trout Ltd, declined to comment.