Man denies causing death by dangerous driving - court

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A van driver died after ploughing into a HGV being reversed in the dark across both lanes of a well-used Cumbrian road.

Carlisle Crown Court heard 53-year-old crash victim David Mitchell “didn’t have the chance” to avoid a potato-laden trailer as it was being backed into a farm entrance near Wigton.

Mr Mitchell, from Waverton, suffered fatal head injuries and died at the scene of the crash, on the B5305 outside Greenrigg Farm, on the evening of November 6, 2015.

The wagon driver, Nigel James Stevens, 55, right, has gone on trial at the crown court.

He admits a charge of causing Mr Mitchell’s death by careless driving but denies the allegation that his driving was dangerous.

Opening the case, prosecutor Jacob Dyer said Stevens lived up that farm track. He had finished work, stopped his Scania vehicle on the B5305 just beyond the junction and was attempting to reverse.

“You will see that the tractor unit was on the correct side of the road but the trailer unit was across both carriageways,” Mr Dyer told jurors.

There was no street lighting at that location. The tractor unit lights were on, as were the trailer’s side lights.

“But what the prosecution say is that the position of the vehicle in that way, to perform that manoeuvre in the dark, was dangerous because oncoming drivers were unable to see the trailer as an obstruction blocking their path,” said Mr Dyer. Stevens believed the van approached at “great speed”, and “didn’t slow” before an impact which a police investigator later estimated at 30mph to 40mph.

The van pivoted in a clockwise direction, coming to rest on the grass verge.

“Unfortunately Mr Mitchell died at the scene as a result of his very serious head injuries that he had sustained in the collision,” said Mr Dyer.

Mr Mitchell wasn’t wearing his seat belt at the time. But, according to a Home Office pathologist, this would have made no difference.

When questioned by police, Stevens said he did not believe his driving was dangerous. He said he believed “he had driven at the standard of a careful and competent driver”.

The trial continues.

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