Branton crash: Eyewitness tells court car was speeding before smash

Picture shows the damage left to a house at Poppyfields Way in Branton, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, after a vehicle crashed into it and burst into flames.
Picture shows the damage left to a house at Poppyfields Way in Branton, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, after a vehicle crashed into it and burst into flames.
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An eyewitness has described seeing a car being driven erratically just seconds before it ploughed into a house, resulting in a fatal fireball crash.

James Maughan, aged 21, denies being the driver of a black Renault Megane which crashed into a property in Poppyfields Way, Branton on August 25 last year.

The crash resulted in the deaths of passengers 26-year-old Liam Aldred and 27-year-old Dean McIntyre, and the serious injury of Bradley Stevenson, aged 21.

A 15-year-old male, who was also in the car at the time of the crash, sustained minor injuries.

Giving evidence at Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday, Tracey Jackson, a passenger in a van, described how the Renault Megane was weaving in and out of traffic, overtaking vehicles and speeding along Cantley Lane before the crash.

She said: “My husband was driving and I remember a car coming up behind us at quite a speed trying to overtake us.

“The car was weaving in and out of traffic and cutting between us and the bollards in the road.

“My husband had to brake quite hard to prevent a collision and then beeped his horn.”

Mrs Jackson said the car continued to overtake vehicles until they lost sight of it.

Just seconds later, they saw huge plumes of smoke as they approached Poppyfields Way.

She said: “We stopped our van at the junction of Poppyfields Way, there was a lot of smoke and a lot of hysteria, a lot of people there.

“Then I saw three people getting out of the car, I couldn’t work out which doors they came out of as there was so much smoke.

“I noticed one boy’s hair was on fire, one had burns to his legs, there was another boy as well.”

The court heard Mrs Jackson saw the boy who had been on fire, believed to be Bradley Stevenson, go across the road for help whilst the two others fled the scene.

Defence barrister Patrick Cassidy, representing Maughan, asked Mrs Jackson about a national newspaper report in which she had been quoted as saying she saw the driver get out of the car before going over the road to a nearby bungalow.

She said: “The rest of the description is accurate but I didn’t say he was the driver.”

Maughan denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The trial continues.