Three men deny charges over Somerset tipper truck deaths
Three men have denied the charges against them in connection with a tipper truck crash that killed four people. Mitzi Steady, aged four, Robert Parker, 59, Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34, died in Bath, Somerset, on 9 February last year. They were struck by the “heavily loaded” Scania truck carrying aggregate on Lansdown Lane in Upper Weston just after 4pm.
The vehicle’s driver, Phillip Potter, 20, his boss Matthew Gordon, 30, and mechanic Peter Wood, 55, face 14 charges in connection with the incident. They appeared at Bristol crown court and denied the charges against them. The trial is expected to last between three and four weeks.
The high court judge, Mr Justice Langstaff, outlined the case to the prospective jury of seven men and five women. “On 9 February last year, a lorry, heavily loaded, went down Lansdown Lane in Bath,” he said. “In its path along the road, the lorry came into contact with and killed a child – a four-year-old girl – crossing at a pedestrian crossing and injured the grandmother who was taking her across the crossing. “It hit other cars, and there’s no dispute that a consequence of those collisions was that three of the occupants of those cars died and others may have sustained injuries. If you happened to live locally at the time, or possibly if you lived farther afield, you may have heard some of the details of this case.”
The judge said the guilt or innocence of the three defendants in the case would be decided by the jury. “It is a very important case,” Langstaff said. “It is therefore all the more important that you take your obligations to serve on the jury seriously.” Potter, of Dauntsey in Wiltshire, denied the 10 charges against him. He is accused of causing the deaths of Mitzi, Parker, Allen and Vaughan by dangerous driving and by careless driving.
The 20-year-old is also charged with causing serious injuries to Karla Brennan and Margaret Rogers – Mitzi’s grandmother – by dangerous driving. Gordon, also of Dauntsey, denied the 14 charges against him. He is accused of the manslaughter of Mitzi, Parker, Allen and Vaughan by failing to ensure the brakes of the truck were in a safe condition.
The 30-year-old is also charged with causing their deaths by dangerous driving and by careless driving, and causing serious injuries to Brennan and Rogers by dangerous driving. Wood, of Brinkworth in Wiltshire, denied the four charges against him. He is accused of the manslaughter of Mitzi, Parker, Allen and Vaughan by failing to ensure the brakes were in a safe condition.
Adam Vaitilingam QC, prosecuting, is expected to open the case at Bristol crown court on Tuesday.