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Accused was 'driving twice the speed limit', court hears

Henry Brandon Barker (left) and 11-year-old Shahzaib Hussain Photo: MEN Syndication
Henry Brandon Barker (left) and 11-year-old Shahzaib Hussain Credit: MEN Syndication

The trial of a motorist accused of causing the death of an 11-year-old boy in a car crash has started today.

Henry Brandon Barker, 20, of Hampton Road, Failsworth , is charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

On February 29, 2016, on Moss Street West in Ashton-under-Lyne a crash took place at the junction with Mowbray Street.

A Mercedes collided with 11-year-old Shahzaib Hussain who had just left a mosque after evening prayers with his father.

The boy was rushed to hospital, but died a short time later.

Prosecuting, Michael Morley, has just started the opening of the trial.

He said:

This case involves a fatal road traffic collision that took place on the afternoon of Monday 29th February 2016 on Moss Street West at its junction with Mowbray Street in Ashton-Under-Lyne.

The person who lost his life, a pedestrian, was a child named Shahzaib Hussain who was 11-years-old.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

He said Barker is charged with death by dangerous driving.

Mr Morley added:

There is no dispute in this case that the collision in which the defendant was involved whilst driving in that location caused the death of Shahzaib Hussain.

The question that you will be asked to decide in this case is whether the manner in which the defendant was driving immediately before the collision was dangerous.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

He went into detail that these facts are not disputed: Shahzaib had just left the Hamza Mosque on Mowbray Street.

After leaving the Mosque, Shahzaib’s uncle crossed Moss Street West to where his car was parked.

Henry Barker was driving a Mercedes A-class vehicle in the direction of the Mosque on Moss Street West.

That Shahzaib stepped onto the road and was hit by the front nearside of the car before he was ‘thrown some distance sustaining injuries which proved fatal’.

Mr Morley said Barker was driving at double the speed limit immediately before the collision.

He said:

You will hear evidence that the defendant was driving on this road at over twice the speed limit. He was driving at 40mph in a 20mph zone. We say that the defendant was not just exceeding the speed limit.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

He added that driving along a narrow back street at that speed ‘can properly be described as dangerous’.

CCTV captured the moment of the crash - and Mr Morley said police were able to measure the speed Barker was travelling.

He said:

The defendant’s minimum average speed passing this junction was 40.8mph.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

He added one witness noticed the car while he was sitting in his own car on Moss Street West.

Mr Morley said:

He was immediately concerned as not only was this car clearly speeding but also swerving to avoid parked cars on the street.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

The vehicle Barker was driving in was also fitted with ‘telematics monitoring device’ which records data from inside the vehicle.

And although it is not a continual record, Mr Morley said:

This is not a continual record, but a recording was made of the speed close to West End Autos on Moss Street West. This recording was 45.92mph.

Whilst there is no dispute that the defendant had just struck a pedestrian, he did not stop at the scene and drove away.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

He said police began a major investigation into the collision. Mr Morley said:

The fact of a serious incident became widely known and was reported on the local press. The defendant handed himself into the Ashton Police Station in the early hours of the following morning.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley

He said Barker confirmed he had been the driver and that the child had ‘run out of nowhere’ and that he had panicked after the collision.

Barker was arrested and the car which had ‘obvious impact damage’ recovered from his grandfather’s farm.

When interviewed by police he submitted a prepared statement which claimed he had not thought he was speeding at the time of the collision.

He said Shahzaib had run out in front of him and didn’t believe there was anything else that could have prevented the collision.

The jury has now been told Barker has previously pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Mr Morley said:

Henry Barker at a previous hearing in these proceedings already entered a guilty plea to causing death through careless driving.

– Prosecuting, Michael Morley