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HGV driver on trial over hen party death

Bethany Jones who was killed in an accident on M62.

An 18-year-old woman died in a "tragic collision" when a coach taking a group of women to a hen party was hit by a lorry, a court has heard.

Bethany Jones was among a group of 20 women travelling to the hen party in Liverpool when their coach was hit on the M62 in West Yorkshire by an articulated vehicle driven by Kevin Ollerhead, from St Helens.

Ollerhead, 45, went on trial at Leeds Crown Court today charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Bryan Cox QC, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury of eight women and four men that the collision happened on April 26 last year after the 24-seater coach suffered mechanical problems and came to a "near standstill" on the motorway.

Other vehicles avoided colliding with the coach but Ollerhead, who was driving the lorry on a cruise control set to 52mph, drove straight into the back of the bus, shunting it 50 yards along the road and into a crash barrier. Miss Jones died after suffering multiple injuries. All of the other passengers on the coach, who were from the Pontefract area, were injured, some severely.

Mr Cox said: "The trip was a pre-arranged hen party and it was arranged to celebrate the coming marriage of one of the passengers, Stefanie Firth. Their journey was, in fact, ended abruptly in a tragic collision."

The coach driver, James Johnson, 64, of Whytecote End, Wyke, Bradford, pleaded guilty to causing Miss Jones's death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing, the jury heard.

But Mr Cox said Ollerhead was also to blame for the young woman's death.

He said: "James Johnson, the coach driver, has pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. Indeed, the prosecution submit his driving was a substantial cause of the accident but it was not the sole cause.

"An additional and significant cause of the accident was Kevin Ollerhead's driving, which, submit the prosecution, fell far short, far below, the standard to be expected of a competent and careful driver.

"He too is guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and he too bears some responsibility for what occurred."

Lorry driver Kevin Ollerhead arrives at Leeds Crown Court. Credit: PA

The prosecutor told the court the coach left South Elmsall, near Pontefract, at 11.06am and the passengers very quickly became aware of signs of mechanical failure, including a smell of burning, and asked Johnson to stop the vehicle.

Johnson did stop the coach, which had a badly burnt-out clutch, and made a brief examination but said he could not find a problem and continued the journey.

The speed of the coach gradually reduced to a "snail's pace" until it was travelling at just 5.5mph in the nearside lane of the M62, just after junction 32, near Pontefract.

Mr Cox said the coach posed a danger to other road users and passengers recalled other vehicles sounding their horns.

He said: "A number of vehicles avoided it by steering into the middle lane. Kevin Ollerhead did not. He was driving his DAF on its limiter at a constant speed of 52mph and he drove the truck straight into the rear of the coach, thereby propelling the coach some 45 metres into the distance and into a barrier."

The court heard that Ollerhead would have had a clear view of the coach for 6.6 seconds and 154 metres but there was no evidence that he applied his brakes before the point of impact.

Mr Cox said: "For a period of 6.6 seconds when the coach was fully in view the defendant simply failed to act to avoid a collision."

The prosecutor described the impact as being "to all intents and purposes a head-on collision". The coach was left lying on its side across the exit sliproad.

The jury was told that Ollerhead gave a statement to police in which he said he could not recall braking or steering but there was nothing he could have done to avoid the collision.

Ollerhead denies causing death by dangerous driving.

The trial continues.

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Former St Helens council leader charged over polling station "assault"

A former Merseyside council leader has been arrested and charged in connection with an alleged assault at a polling station in Scotland.

Marie Rimmer, 67, leader of St Helens council on three occasions, was arrested yesterday after a woman was allegedly assaulted near Shettleston Community Centre in Glasgow.

The centre, in the city's Amulree Street, was being used as a polling station for people to cast their votes in the Scottish independence referendum.

Ms Rimmer is expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court at a later date.

A police spokeswoman said: "Police Scotland can confirm that a 67-year-old woman has been arrested and charged in connection with an alleged assault on a female following an incident at Shettleston Community Centre in Amulree Street, Glasgow, around 1pm today.

"A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal."

According to her Twitter page, Ms Rimmer is seeking the Labour candidacy for St Helens at the next General Election.

St Helens target the Super League Grand Final after winning League Leaders Shield

St Helens rugby league are celebrating their first trophy in six years.

After their nearest rivals Castleford lost to Catalan Dragons, they finished top of Super League to win the League Leaders Shield.

The honours keep coming, with winger Tommy Makinson today named in the Super League dream team.

Our Sports Correspondent David Chisnall has been speaking to a couple of Saints who feel blessed.

St Helens star Luke Walsh recovers from broken leg

St Helens' scrum half Luke Walsh has told ITV Granada Reports that he feared his career was over after suffering a broken leg during a Super League game at Widnes.

The Australian is now a month into his recovery and is aiming for a return to action in 2015.

The 27 year old has had to watch from the sidelines as Saints close in on finishing top of the Super League. He's tipped them to go on and win the Grand Final for the first time since 2006.

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Prescott autobiography completed by player's wife

The wife of charity fundraiser and former Rugby League legend Steve Prescott, has completed her late husband's autobiography.

Steve Prescott's autobiography has been completed by the player's wife Credit: Steve Prescott Foudation

Steve died in November 2013 from a rare form of cancer. During his illness Steve undertook many charity and endurance challenges, raising half-a-million pounds for charity.

Super League's Man Of Steel award was renamed for Steve Prescott.

You can find out more about the ongoing charity work of the Steve Prescott Foundation at www.steveprescottfoundation.co.uk.

Murder arrest in St Helens

Homes on Beacon Grove, St Helens. Credit: Google Street View

A man has been arrested after a man was found dead following reports of an assault in St Helens.

Officers were called to a house on Beacon Grove at about 2.20am today.

Officers found the body of a 35-year-old man in the house.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The victim has not been identified.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out to establish the cause of death.

A 33-year-old man from St Helens was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody for questioning.

The house was cordoned off for forensic examinations and officers are carrying out house-to-house enquiries in the area.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call St Helens CID on 0151 777 6811 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

  1. Tim Scott

Schoolchildren's World War 1 journey of discovery

There's just a week to go until the 100th anniversary of this country entering the First World War. To mark the occasion the families of many servicemen who fought and died are travelling to France to honour the dead at war memorials and cemeteries over the next few days. And one group of schoolchildren from St Helens have already been to see for themselves the sacrifice made by so many.

St Helens rocker wins lottery jackpot

Lottery winner James Jennion and partner Andrea Maclean Credit: Paver Smith

A drummer in a St Helens rock band has won over a million pounds on the lottery.

James Jennion, 50, scooped a share of the Lotto jackpot on Saturday 28 June worth £1,045,504.

Lottery winner James Jennion Credit: Paver Smith

James who is part of ‘Poisoned Electrick Head’ is a roofer by trade but handed in his notice on Monday morning.

He said: “I always play Lotto on a Saturday, but normally log into my account to check my numbers on a Monday morning.

For some reason this time I logged on to check on Sunday night and saw the message congratulating me on being a winner.

I thought it must be a small win but got the shock of my life when I checked my account and realised I had just become a millionaire!"

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