Son of Frank Sidebottom’s creator was run over and killed by car

The son of Frank Sidebottom’s creator was run over by a car and killed after he fell off his bicycle while ‘spaced out’ on strong lager and drugs, a court heard.

Harry Sievey, 24, was lying in the road in a daze after tumbling over the handlebars of his mountain bike when a Vauxhall Corsa drove over both him and a friend who had been tending to him in Fallowfield, Manchester.

The musician – whose late father Chris Sievey found fame in the 1980s and 90s as the bizarre comic character with a large papier mache head – suffered fatal injuries in the impact and later died in hospital.

Harry Sievey (in dark khaki coat) with his family at the unveiling in 2013 of a statue to his late father Chris who created Frank Sidebottom. Harry was klled in a cycling crash

It emerged Harry and his friend had drunk three pints of Holsten Pils in a pub and had taken the anti-anxiety tranquiliser Xanax even though it had not been prescribed to either of them.

The driver of the Corsa, Vithal Visavadiya, 61, had been drinking lager during a meal with his wife in an Indian restaurant but was under the alcohol limit. He said he failed to see Harry and his friend in the moments before the impact.

Manchester Crown Court heard the tragedy occurred at 10.15pm on February 12 last year in the city’s Fallowfield district after Harry had been to the Victoria pub in nearby Withington with a friend Izaac Coller.

In a statement Mr Coller said: ‘We had been drinking the night before and he had stayed at my house. After waking up at around 2pm and staying in the house that afternoon, we decided to go out early evening for a couple of drinks at around 7pm and we decided to cycle to the Victoria.

It emerged Harry and his friend had drunk three pints of Holsten Pils in a pub and had taken the anti-anxiety tranquiliser Xanax even though it had not been prescribed to either of them

It emerged Harry and his friend had drunk three pints of Holsten Pils in a pub and had taken the anti-anxiety tranquiliser Xanax even though it had not been prescribed to either of them

‘Harry’s bike had no saddle on it and neither of us were wearing safety helmets. Harry was wearing a dark coloured coat and jeans, he did not have any lights on his bike. 

‘We travelled through some local streets and we arrived at the pub. We asked staff if we could leave our bikes in the rear garden and they said that would be fine.

‘We each ordered a pint of Holsten which is a high percentage lager, and played pool. I felt a bit wobbly but not what I would class as drunk. We then had two more pints each of the same lager. While drinking in the pub we then had 1/2 a Xantax tablet each – this was not prescribed to either of us.

‘We had both consumed two tablets the night before. They are quite strong and make you feel spaced out, I would say that Harry was feeling the same as me.

‘We stayed there for around two hours before deciding to go back to my house. I do not remember where we cycled other than Harry was cycling ahead of me. The next thing I remember was waking up in Manchester Royal Infirmary hospital and I was told that Harry had been killed.’

Eye witness Christine Slevin who was in the passenger seat of her husband James’s Ford Fiesta said: ‘I saw two cyclists as my husband was driving but as one of the boys came around the corner, he came off his bike when into the road. The other young lad jumped off his bike and and we pulled up and my husband spoke to him to ask of he needed any help.

Driver Vithall Visavidaya is pictured leaving Manchester Magistrates court

Driver Vithall Visavidaya is pictured leaving Manchester Magistrates court

‘The young lad on the road looked like he was trying to get up when I looked up and saw a car coming. I said to my husband ‘it’s not stopping, it’s still coming, it’s still coming’. My husband looked up and he was flashing his lights to try and get the car to stop. Then he tried to turn the wheel of the car to try and protect the boys but there was not enough time to protect them.

‘I did not see any change in the cars movement, it just kept coming. Everything just went in slow motion. My husband said to me to not look but we could hear the car hit them.

‘When the boy had come off his bike he just sort of flipped over his bike, it did not look like he hit anything, he went over the handlebars and onto the road. There could not have been any obstruction that would have caused him to come off. Everything happened so quickly.’

Prosecutor Justin Hayhoe said: ‘Mr Visavadiya’s wife was sitting in the front passenger seat and Mr Visavadiya was driving the vehicle. They had been for a meal that evening at Sanskruti restaurant in Fallowfield.

‘Mr Sievey and Mr Coller had been cycling down the road. They had been drinking and drugs were detected in their system. Mr Sievey had fallen off his bicycle and lay in the road, the other male with him was stood over him trying to assist him. The road is a straight road and relatively easy to see down.

‘Witnesses in a car saw the two men in the road cycling, what they saw next is that the handlebars seemed to jerk on Mr Sievey’s bicycle and he fell into the road.

‘Mr Coller then goes to his help Mr Sievey who appeared to be unconscious in the road. Witnesses saw a car coming towards the scene – they describe the car travelling at moderate speed and could see the cars headlights as it approached. It was clear to all witnesses that he was not going to stop.


Frank Sidebottom was the cult comic persona of Chris Sievey. 

The character was instantly recognisable thanks to its large head. 

It was initially made from papier-mâché, but Sievey later had one moulded from fibreglass.

Frank, usually dressed in a 1950s-style sharp suit, was portrayed as an aspiring pop star from the small village of Timperley, near Manchester.

His character was cheerfully optimistic, enthusiastic, and seemingly oblivious to his own failings.  

‘A witness in the other car, fearing and in anticipation of what was going to happen, describes flashing his head lights in an attempt to warn that car and his wife wound down the window to shout in attempt to warn about what was going to happen.

‘The other witnesses also shouted from the side of the round and waved their arms. But the defendant drove over Mr Sievey as he lay in the road, drove over the bicycles and over Mr Coller, before coming to a stop around 10 metres ahead.

‘Passersby performed CPR at the scene, paramedics and police were called and took over the care of Mr Seivey. He was taken to hospital but he died shortly after. Mr Visavadiya smelled of alcohol and he said he had drank alcohol around 30 minutes prior to the incident. But samples taken show that he was well below the legal limit for driving.’

Visavadiya was quizzed the following day but gave no comment. Mr Hayhoe added: ‘During the course of these proceedings, he has accepted that he was the driver and accepts that he came into collision with the two males.

‘He says he drank one and half pints of Cobra lager, and says that he did not see them in the road as he approached and had been blinded by continuous headlights flashing. He says he was concentrating on the road and did not see any of the warning signals.

Visavadiya, from Bolton, denies causing death by careless driving. The case continues.

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