Death by dangerous driving trial: prosecution case continues

The issues of Sat Nav use and how the drivers responded were discussed during day two in the trial of a man accused of killing a Belford father-of-three in a collision on the A1 through dangerous driving.

By Andrew Coulson
Tuesday, 14th May 2019, 7:24 pm
Barry Carmon.
Barry Carmon.

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.

The trial at Newcastle Crown Court started yesterday.

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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.

As part of her opening of the case, prosecutor Sue Hirst referred to his police interview under caution in June 2017, when ‘he said he believed he was using a Sat Nav for the return journey’.

She said he should not fully rely on a Sat Nav, but a test of this equipment was carried out after this date and the screen showed that a dual carriageway is ahead when approaching the junction.

Today, during cross-examination of PC Andrew Smith, of Northumbria Police, defence barrister Christopher Knox said the Sat Nav had audio and it instructed Crook to turn right at the junction with the A1.

Accepting that Crook made a mistake by turning onto the northbound carriageway and heading southbound, Mr Knox said it would be reasonable for a driver to follow the audio instruction and look ahead and not at the screen when approaching a junction, adding that there was no audio message saying he was in the wrong lane after he made the mistake, so he initially assumed he was in the correct lane.

During re-examination by Miss Hirst, PC Smith said he would expect drivers to "use their own observations and rely on the road signs and not fully rely on their Sat Nav".

During the examination-in-chief of PC Smith, he said the minimum distance at which the drivers could have first seen each other's vehicles was 160m.

In cross-examination, Mr Knox referred to one of the witnesses saying in his statement that Mr Carmon was travelling at about 100mph at a point further south of the collision site on the A1 northbound minutes earlier and using a calculation, it would take approximately 3.57 seconds to cover the 160m travelling at that speed.

He said Crook would have had very little time to respond when he realised that the Subaru was heading towards him.

PC Smith said the investigator was unable to determine the exact speed of either vehicle at the point when they collided. However, the investigation did establish that both drivers had taken action to try to avoid a collision when they realised they were heading towards each other.

When asked by Miss Hirst in re-examination, he said a vehicle travelling at 70mph would take approximately 5.1 seconds to cover the 160m.

The trial continues.