Jurors watched shocking footage which showed the moment a motorist drove his van “deliberately” on an electric scooter driver at Bamber Bridge.
Samuel Bretherton of Leyland was on trial today (October 4) at Preston Crown Court charged with the murder of Ben Smith – a charge he denies.
The jury heard how Mr Smith, 20, died of fatal injuries in a collision in which Bretherton crushed him at Station Road around 1 p.m. on February 11 this year.
Prosecutor Francis McEntee told the jury that Bretherton admitted to unlawfully killing Ben Smith – and pleaded guilty to manslaughter – but the Crown’s evidence is that Bretherton intended to kill Mr. Smith or cause him very serious injuries amounting to murder.
READ MORE: Leyland van driver admits manslaughter but denies murdering Ben Smith in Bamber Bridge, lawsuit says
“We say the circumstances are that on February 11 of this year a young man lost his life under the wheels of a vehicle driven by Samuel Bretherton,” McEntee said.
“It was not a case of misconduct or error in judgment, it was a willful act, we say, in which the accused used his vehicle as a weapon as he passed over a young man , Ben Smith, and crushed him causing a series of fatal injuries. “
During the first day of the trial, jurors watched various CCTV clips taken at businesses on Station Road, which showed the incident graphically. Mr. Smith’s family left the court while the footage was released.
The court heard that two years before the collision, Bretherton, of Mellor Road, had separated from a woman named Shannon Scanlon. At the time of the accident, Miss Scanlon was in a relationship with a man called John Martin Devane.
John Devane was, at the time of these events, the partner – the boyfriend – of a young woman named Shannon. Shannon Scanlon had previously been the girlfriend of this accused and while she and Mr. Bretherton had broken up as early as November 2019, there had been continuous contact between the two, ”the prosecutor told the jury.
In fact, just 45 seconds before the accused’s vehicle appeared on Station Road, Miss Scanlon had received the latest in a series of messages in what became an angry exchange between her and the accused. in which the accused called John as ‘numbness’. “
On February 11, Mr Devane and Mr Smith were cycling along Station Road in Bamber Bridge when Bretherton’s van pulled up in front of them. CCTV footage released in court shows Mr. Devane walks past the Ford Transit and activates the driver’s side exterior mirror. Mr. Smith then stops in front of the van, on his electric scooter, and shortly after, his body is seen falling under the wheels as the Transit starts up.
Mr. McEntee went on to describe what had happened during the broadcast of the video surveillance: “Mr. Devane enters the road and down the middle of the road towards the driver’s side of the accused’s Transit van and he kicks the outside mirror quite clearly and deliberately. There is no doubt that John Devane’s criminal act was the catalyst for the events which would unfortunately have resulted in the death of Ben Smith. “
The court heard that witnesses described hearing the accused “cranking the engine” just before Bretherton drove on Mr. Smith.
A witness, Sarah Seed, was walking along the road with her son at the time. Mr. McEntee said: “(She said) Mr. Smith was touching the van, leaning to the side in the van, he was facing the driver. The accused then cranked his engine and the van jumped towards forward, causing the scooter handlebars to move slightly, the defendant cranked his engine, then the scooter and Mr. Smith began to fall on the road.
Miss Seed started yelling at the driver of the van ‘you are going to run over him’ and she said that just in case he didn’t see the man in front of the van. The prosecution says the recording of CCTV clearly shows that he could. There is no chance that the defendant would not see Mr. Smith in front of the vehicle. Miss Seed recalls that the van rolled forward and completely rolled over on Mr. Smith. She saw the front wheels of the pickup truck passed over Mr. Smith’s body and, notably, let’s say, then the rear wheels crushed Mr. Smith again. “
The trial is continuing and is expected to end at the end of this week.
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