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Driver denies covering up hit-and-run that killed Shropshire man

Market Drayton | Crime | Published:

A motorist has denied throwing away his mobile phone and trying to “stage the theft” of his car after a fatal Lake District road crash which claimed the life of a Shropshire man.

James Greenwood

Carlisle Crown Court has heard how Matthew Leggett’s BMW 1 series struck 61-year-old pedestrian James Greenwood as he crossed the A66 on foot with friends while returning to a campsite near Keswick, just before 12.29am on April 7 last year.

Mr Greenwood, from Market Drayton, suffered serious injuries and died soon after.

Leggett, a 24-year-old electrician, is on trial. He faces no charges in relation to the collision itself, but denies doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice in the immediate aftermath.

It is alleged he drove 12 miles from the scene, parked his BMW off the road close to woodland and deliberately disposed of his mobile phone. The prosecution claims his vehicle was “abandoned”, with its lights and radio still on, “to make it look as though it had been stolen”.

The case so far:

But, giving evidence yesterday, Leggett denied the allegations.

He recalled driving towards Keswick and seeing people ahead of him next to the A66.

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"As I have glanced to look at them on the left side of the road there has just been a big bang on the windscreen," he said.

He didn't know what he had hit, he said, and phoned a friend to arrange collection beside remote woodland.

"I was in shock. I was in panic," he admitted.

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During a night of little sleep, Leggett admitted he later started to think he might have hit a person, adding: "I was going to go to the police in the morning."

He couldn't remember whether he took his mobile phone - which was never recovered - from the BMW at the rendezvous point.

His barrister, Anthony Parkinson, asked: "Did you park your vehicle in that place, in the way it was parked, because you had a plan to pretend that the vehicle had been stolen?"

Leggett, of Sonnets Way, Cockermouth, replied: "No. It was just parked there simply because we both knew it well from when we were younger."

Asked whether he had thrown away his phone, as alleged, Leggett said: "No. I didn't have any reason to throw my phone away."

He admitted leaving the crash scene without raising the alarm, but insisted: "I would have stopped if I had seen Mr Greenwood in the road. I had no idea what it was."

Leggett does admit post-collision dangerous driving of the BMW, which had extensive damage to the front grill, bonnet and windscreen; not stopping at the scene; and not reporting the incident.

Jurors have seen dashcam footage from the patrol car of a Pc who retraced, at night, the route taken by Leggett from the crash site to the woods. To complete that 12-mile journey in the 12 minutes it took Leggett before the BMW’s ignition was switched off at 12.40am, the officer reached a top speed of 104mph.

The trial continues.

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