Friday, February 1, 2008

Passer-by killed by trailer’s swinging side panel in Wrexham

Passer-by killed by trailer’s swinging side panel in Wrexham

A MOTORIST whose trailer hit and fatally injured a pedestrian yesterday went on trial for causing death by dangerous driving.

Mold Crown Court heard how a man was struck by the side panel of the trailer which swung open as it was being towed on Wrexham industrial estate.

Victim Damon Harry Palmer was thrown up into the air by the impact.

Mr Palmer, 57, from Stoke-on-Trent, a team leader with an insulation company, had driven to the industrial estate for a training day.

He had just arrived but as he parked his car in Abbey Road and got out, he was struck by the side panel of the twin axle Ivor Williams trailer being towed by a Chrysler Voyager driven by OIiver.

The accident left him with “serious and unsurvivable head injuries” in a pool of blood and he died a short time later in hospital.

Driver Rupert Oliver, 66, an inventor and former Wrexham businessman, now of The Residence at Kenchester near Hereford, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

Prosecuting barrister Simon Medland told a jury at Mold Crown Court that the side mesh panel of the trailer opened up like a substantial door.

The defendant was oblivious to the opening and closing of the panel on the trailer behind him, pulled out to overtake, and the panel came into contact with Mr Palmer’s head “causing appalling injuries.”

He was spun into the air, dropped to the road unconscious, and died half an hour later in hospital despite efforts to save him.

Mr Medland told the jury that there was no criticism of the defendant’s actual driving, but he was driving a dangerous vehicle – a trailer which had a substantial panel flapping about.

It was the prosecution case that the trailer should have been properly checked before the journey began a short time earlier, or at least he should have seen the side-panel flapping about before the fatal collision occurred.

As well as hitting Mr Palmer, the side panel rode up his blue Rover car, shunting it forward, and causing a passenger in the car to suffer a head injury.

Oliver claimed that he checked the trailer about two hours before he drove from his former company, SPI, on the Spectrum Industrial Estate.

An inventor who has spent a lifetime designing children’s play equipment, had been removing his experimental children’s play kit from a yard in Denbigh which was being closed down.

The previous night he took a load from Denbigh to SPI to store the items there. He left the vehicle and trailer overnight.

The following morning he had driven just half a mile intending to return to Denbigh when the accident occurred.

In a police interview, he said it was the most horrible thing that had ever happened to him, and he felt awful.

He said that he had driven for 50 years, was experienced in towing trailers, and always checked everything.

Forensic vehicle examiner Gary Roberts said in his view the two spring pins on the front edge of the side panel were not in place.

Defending barrister Stuart Driver said it was accepted that the bottom pin was not in place but suggested that the top one was, but that it was not properly secured by the spring.

The trial before Judge John Rogers QC is proceeding.


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