A MOTORIST accused of trying to “avoid detection by police” after a fatal A66 crash was seen “startled” and “panicked” shortly after the collision.

Matthew Paul Leggett, 24, is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court. He denies one charge

of trying to pervert the course of justice in the crash aftermath.

Just after midnight on April 7, 2018, his BMW car collided with 61-year-old pedestrian James Greenwood, who was crossing an unlit section of the A66 near Keswick while returning to a campsite. Mr Greenwood, from Shropshire, suffered fatal injuries.

Leggett didn’t stop at the scene. His BMW was found by police at secluded Setmurthy Woods, near Bassenthwaite, with its lights and radio on, and keys inside.

In the early hours, Leggett and best friend Finlay Davidson called at the Cockermouth home of his partner’s sister, Charlotte Middleton. She and boyfriend Dominic Bradley were woken.

Mr Bradley told the court yesterday Leggett wanted to borrow a spare key for his own partner’s address on the same estate. “He seemed quite startled,” Mr Bradley recalled, “and in my opinion he seemed quite panicked.”

Told there was no spare key, Leggett and his friend left before returning a short time later. Miss Middleton allowed Leggett to stay the night. The pair spoke at about 7am.

In a statement, she recalled: “He said ‘something really bad has happened. I think I might have hit someone in the road’.”

Leggett said: “I’m pretty sure it’s a person but it might not have been.”

“Matthew said he needed to go to the police,” Miss Middleton stated. “He seemed upset. A few minutes later officers arrived.”

Asked by Anthony Parkinson, defending, whether Leggett, of Sonnets Way, Cockermouth, suggested he had “hidden his car” or “deliberately disposed of his phone”, she replied: “No.”

Leggett denies the allegation he did both things.

Asked by Judge James Adkin in court whether Leggett asked to use her phone to ring police, Miss Middleton replied: “No.”

The trial continues.