Man on trial accused of causing deaths of pensioners on A429

A COURT heard a couple died when the Honda in which they were sitting was hit head-on, writes Tom Seward.

Nicholas Haynes, 33, was said to have been driving at more than 80mph and on the wrong-side of the road before his powerful Audi struck their smaller car just outside Corston, near Malmesbury.

Gillian Smith, 86, and Anthony Webster, 80, were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Honda was injured in the crash on September 16, 2019.

Haynes denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, claiming he was suffering an epileptic fit.

But opening the case at Swindon Crown Court yesterday, prosecutor Don Tait questioned that defence.

The prosecution expert Prof Ley Sander, described by Mr Tait as the top epilepsy specialist in the world, concluded that an earlier crash, which saw Haynes hit the back of a Range Rover Sport 21 seconds before the fatal collision – happened when he had a brief focal seizure.

Mr Tait suggested to the jury that Haynes, who had four months earlier been involved in a less serious crash and was warned by the police he could be prosecuted for careless driving, had decided to make a quick getaway after he hit the Range Rover.

Data from the Audi’s onboard computer showed the car had accelerated to 83mph seconds before the crash and the driver had switched from third to fourth gear.

Between leaving the Dyson offices near Malmesbury at 4.14pm and striking the Range Rover at around 4.23pm, Haynes had driven at the speed limit and stopped behind the 4×4 as they waited at temporary traffic lights.

Other drivers claimed to have seen the Audi, which was travelling southbound on the A429 towards the M4, pull onto the wrong side of the road to pass a vehicle turning right and, after driving over double white lines, missed by inches another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.

The Audi struck the Honda Jazz head on. The force of the crash left marks in the road and the Honda was forced into the southbound lane and struck a Ford Focus.

Witnesses said they initially thought Haynes was drunk, although they could not smell alcohol and he later tested negative for drink or drugs. He was trying to start his engine and said he had no memory of the crash.

He told a police officer at the scene that he suffered from epilepsy and had seizures at night, but said he was taking medication for the condition. At the roadside, he said his epilepsy would not have affected his driving or had an impact on the crash. “I was driving along and the next thing I know I’m being pulled from my car. I don’t remember having an accident,” he added.

Jurors heard that Haynes was expected to say he was suffering an epileptic seizure during both crashes.

Mr Tait told the court: “Being fair to the defendant, as we always endeavour to be, in light of Prof Sander’s opinion the prosecution will concede that the defendant may – and I underline the word may – have suffered a brief focal seizure which would have lasted seconds immediately prior to the collision with the Range Rover.

“Thereafter he took the conscious decision not to stop and instead he overtook the Range Rover, was able to narrowly avoid a collision with the vehicle ahead about to turn right and then accelerated away, speeding for approximately 400 yards changing gear as he did so.”

He added: “The Crown accepts the defendant has a history of nocturnal, that is night time, epilepsy.

“The Crown accepts that the initial collision with the Range Rover may have been due to a partial seizure and, as far as the events thereafter before the fatal collision, the Crown says there are important features of the evidence that suggest he was not in the throes of an epileptic seizure after the collision with the Range Rover.”

Haynes, of Newark Road, Gloucester, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. The trial continues.

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