Jury retires in A1 death by dangerous driving trial
The jury has retired in the trial of man accused of killing a Belford father-of-three in a collision on the A1 through dangerous driving.
This followed closing speeches by the prosecution and defence barristers and directions and summing up by Judge Penny Moreland at Newcastle Crown Court today.
On the night of April 8, 2017, Mathew Crook, of Albatross Way, Blyth, turned onto the northbound carriageway following a meal with his partner at The Cook and Barker Inn, Newton on the Moor, but headed in the wrong direction – southbound.
His Ford Transit van hit a Subaru car being driven by Barry Carmon and when emergency services arrived, Mr Carmon was pronounced dead at the scene.
Crook, 26, has pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, but the prosecution case argues that his actions amounted to dangerous driving. He pleaded not guilty to this charge.
Prosecutor Sue Hirst said the road junction he was approaching had clear signage in the correct position that a dual carriageway was ahead and any careful and competent driver would have seen them and known that they needed to go to the central reservation and then turn right to go on the A1 southbound.
She added: "If he didn't know his way home, as it seems he is suggesting, he should have paid even closer attention to the signs around him."
Defence barrister Christopher Knox said whilst the sat nav Crook was using had a graphic showing double green lines as he approached the junction, it was 'perfectly reasonable' for him to follow the oral directions and they instructed him to turn right. There was then no audio warning that he was heading in the wrong direction.
He added: "This was something that happened in a matter of seconds and the opportunities for correcting this weren't there because he didn't realise he had made that crucial mistake."
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In her directions to the jury, Judge Moreland said that a momentary error or mistake can be classed as dangerous driving if it falls far below what is expected of a careful and competent driver.
Miss Hirst in her speech said that Crook had turned off at the junction for Newton on the Moor on the way to the pub at a point where the A1 is a dual carriageway and then went to the same junction on the way back.
She then said to the jury: "How could a careful and competent driver forget that?"
Mr Knox said it was agreed by both sides that Crook did not intend to head in the wrong direction and although he said it was up the jury to decide whether or not his actions amounted to dangerous driving, he gave examples of 'obvious dangerous driving that this is not'.
These included somebody who is racing another vehicle, trying to overtake in a place where they shouldn't, driving a vehicle that isn't safe, texting at the wheel and being under the influence of drink or drugs.
The character references that were read out in court on Thursday were also referenced.
Miss Hirst said to the jury: "They don't really help you with the decision you have to make in this case."
But Mr Knox said they were produced 'not to cloud the issues, but to put the decision that he made in its true context'.