Witness gives evidence

A DRIVER who witnessed the accident which killed Lee Fitt on the A12 told a court he saw no evidence of the lorry braking as it hit into Mr Fitt's car.

By Nick Richards

A DRIVER who witnessed the accident which killed Lee Fitt on the A12 told a court he saw no evidence of the lorry braking as it hit into Mr Fitt's car.

Mr Fitt, 24, from Colchester, was killed instantly on December 14 1999 when a lorry driven by Felixstowe man Victor Coates, 57, ploughed into his broken down car at Marks Tey.

The prosecution alleges that the tachograph in Coates' lorry was tampered with after the accident, which they allege was caused by Coates falling asleep at the wheel after driving for 20 hours.

Coates admits three charges of making a false record but denies causing Mr Fitt's death by dangerous driving.

Coates' haulier boss Martin Graves, 39, of Eastland Court, Trimley St Mary denies five charges of making a false record and one of the manslaughter of Mr Fitt.

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Basildon Crown Court heard an account of the accident from prosecution witness Brian Gorrie, who was traveling in a separate lorry behind Coates' vehicle.

He told the court he had been driving from Hemel Hempstead to Felixstowe and the weather was dry with good conditions for driving.

He said he had been doing 56mph, the top speed in his lorry due to a limiter being fitted, when he started to catch up to Coates' lorry.

He said he pulled into the outside lane but as he did, Coates started to speed up and the two lorries were driving side by side when Coates crashed into Mr Fitt's Ford Orion.

"I heard several noises" said Mr Gorrie.

"The next thing I knew there was debris and things everywhere with bits and pieces hitting my vehicle.

"The lorry unit went to the left, I thought there had been a blow out, but the lorry had not changed course at all and there was no indication that it had braked as I saw no brake lights.

"I did see the red Ford out of the corner of my eye which was spinning three to four feet in the air when the debris was flying.

"The vehicle in front carried on for some time before pulling over. I got out of the lorry and saw the other driver (Coates) at the front looking at the damage to his lorry.

"I asked if he was all right and he replied 'What was she doing?, referring to the woman in the car."

Sarah Norman, who was sitting in the car which was shunted into a hedge in the collision suffered only cuts and bruises.

She fought back the tears in the witness box as she told the jury of the moments leading up to the accident.

She said the car had broken down on the A12 and they had put the hazard warning lights on. She recollected that they left the hazard warning lights on as they slowly limped along, because they thought their car was still a hazard to other drivers.

Miss Norman said that they stopped suddenly for a second time and Mr Fitt undid the bonnet catch and got out of the car.

She said that she could see the hazard warning lights were on as they reflected in Mr Fitt's face at the front of the car.

She told the jury that while Mr Fitt was standing beside the car she saw headlights approaching the car in the passenger-side wing mirror.

The trial continues.

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