Court hears from woman who crashed minutes before accident which killed two people

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A COURT heard yesterday (Wednesday) from a woman who spun her car off the road just 15 minutes before an accident which killed two people.

Phillipa Leach was giving evidence at Aaron Simpson’s trial. Simpson, 19, of King’s Road, Oakham, faces two charges of causing death by careless driving at Leicester Crown Court, which he denies.

Simpson was driving a blue Ford Fiesta when the crash happened on the A6003 near the Sounding Bridge in Manton at 5.35pm on August 25, 2010. His girlfriend Kelly Bulmer, 17, and James Adamson, 23, died instantly in the incident, which also involved a white Ford Transit van,

Mrs Leach was driving a BMW on the day of the accident.

She had dropped her son off in Oakham and was driving towards Uppingham when her car spun off the road and onto the left hand side of the road at 5.20pm.

She said that in 32 years of driving something like that had never happened to her.

She said: “I have no idea why [it happened]. The back end went and normally when that happens you can steer out of it or take your foot off the accelerator but no matter what I tried it didn’t make a difference.”

Mrs Leach said she called her son who came to collect her and they were sitting in his car near the scene of the crash when they heard the collision between Simpson’s Fiesta and the transit van belonging to Charles Stimson from Oakham.

The defence then called Ken Cowell to give evidence. Mr Cowell is a private collision investigator who was hired by the defence to look at the report compiled by police investigator PC Michael Hinton.

PC Hinton had concluded that one of the possible reasons for the crash could be lift-off oversteer by Simpson. He has also carried out skid tests on the road two weeks after the crash using a Ford Focus which the defence says does not give conclusive evidence. Water had been used on the road to recreate the circumstances on the day of the crash.

Mr Cowell worked as an accident investigator for the police for 20 years.

He said: “The Focus I would class as a medium estate car and the Fiesta as a small hatchback. The two vehicles are entirely different.

“I have never heard of the fire service being used to hose down a road before. I don’t see how that would recreate a scene, especially two weeks later. There’s road temperature to take into consideration and there are just some circumstances where tests like these are impossible.”

In the case of over-steering, Mr Cowell said Simpson would have had to have turned his wheel completely, once, to get the kind of spin where he would have hit the van side on.

Kevin Barry, prosecuting, said during cross-examination that Mr Cowell could not know the full details of the crash as he had not attended the scene at the time and had only based his opinion on is experience, knowledge and witness reports.

Mr Cowell stated that he visited the scene of the crash on Tuesday night and could see that despite Rutland County Council applying a skid-proof surface it is already well worn by high traffic levels.

He added: “Taking that into consideration it would suggest there’s something wrong with the road surface in the first place.”

Mr Barry also said that due to Mr Cowell saying the Focus and the Fiesta are two different cars which handle differently, the BMW spinning off the road should also be considered as being a completely different car as it is a rear wheel drive and also completely different to the Fiesta. Stuart Lody, defending, finished by asking whether grooves in the road caused by high traffic levels could collect water puddles during heavy rain showers.

Mr Cowell said: “You would get a polished road surface where people go around the bend. Yes in heavy rain it would collect water.”

Earlier in the day, Simpson had given evidence and was reduced to tears when he said he felt “awful” about the crash.

He cannot remember the crash itself due to the head injuries he sustained. He has since fully recovered.

The trial will continue today (Thursday) when both the prosecution and the defence will give their closing speeches to the jury, before it goes out to consider its verdict.