Oswestry murder accused was 'erratic' driver says man who was in car when he ploughed into group

An Oswestry man had no licence and was drunk when he ploughed into a group of young people outside a town centre takeaway, killing a 22-year-old woman, a court has heard.

Grill Out in Willow Street. Photo: Google.
Grill Out in Willow Street. Photo: Google.

Stephen McHugh, aged 28, of Artillery Road, Park Hall, has admitted killing Rebecca Steer in a crash in Willow Street, Oswestry in the early hours of October 9 last year, but has denied murder.

Miss Steer, of Llanymynech, was hit by McHugh driving a Volvo outside the Grill Out takeaway shortly before 3am. A second pedestrian, Kyle Roberts, was seriously injured in the incident.

Stafford Crown Court had previously been told how McHugh had used his "car as a weapon" to deliberately strike a group of young people outside the takeaway.

Mr Justice Andrew Baker was also told that Miss Steer had been an "innocent bystander" when she was hit and dragged under McHugh's Volvo.

Rebecca Steer died in Oswestry town centre on October 9 last year

In the second day of the murder trial of McHugh on Thursday, the court heard from a friend of the defendant, Alex Coulson, who had been in the passenger seat of the car when it hit Miss Steer and Mr Roberts.

Mr Coulson told the court that he, McHugh and another man, Kyle Dwyer, were travelling down Willow Street after a night of drinking in various public houses in Oswestry, following a day spent watching a football game between Morda and Dawley.

Prosecutor Kevin Hegarty KC asked the witness what McHugh's mood was as they drove down Willow Street towards the Grill Out takeaway where the collision occurred.

"He seemed fine at the time," Mr Coulson replied. "There was a group of people outside Grill Out. The car slowed next to them as they were shouting at the car."

He said that he did not know what words were exchanged between the group and McHugh, but they had sounded "aggressive".

He continued: "I then heard a noise and I don't know if something hit the car or hit the window. I just heard a bang or something."

He then explained the car reversed backwards.

"It happened so quick. It was just a few seconds so I had no time to think," he said.

"Did it cross your mind why the car was going backwards?" asked Mr Hegarty.

Mr Coulson replied: "As there was a group near the car I thought he was just trying to get away from them."

"But he could have gone forwards or backwards?" asked Mr Hegarty.

"Yes, but he's not the best driver to be honest," Coulson replied.

"And then? asked Mr Hegarty.

"The car went forwards," said Mr Coulson. "It mounted the kerb. It kept going forward."

"And what had happened on that forward journey?" asked the prosecutor.

"The car hit two or three people," Mr Coulson said, adding that he saw Rebecca Steer at the front and side of the car.

"What happened to her?" asked Mr Hegarty.

Mr Coulson replied: "She went under the car."

He said that he then heard a "crunching sound" but the car continued forwards.

"I was shocked. I had my head in my hands," added Mr Coulson.

The court then heard how McHugh and his two passengers then drove to Harlech Court in Oswestry where the car hit a signpost.

Mr Coulson told the court it was then that he asked McHugh why he hit the group of people outside the takeaway.

"He [McHugh] said 'I didn't mean to', and then Kyle got out the car and ran off," said Mr Coulson.

In cross-examining Mr Coulson, defence counsel, Mr Paul Hynes KC, asked how much they had been drinking.

He was told they had spent an hour in the Black Lion pub, followed by five hours in the Unicorn pub in Oswestry and an hour in Gibson's nightclub.

"You said in your statement in scale of drunkenness - you were about 6/10?" asked Mr Hynes. "Was Stephen as drunk as you?"

"A little bit more to be honest," replied Mr Coulson.

"You also described him [McHugh] as not being the best driver," said the defence counsel.

Mr Coulson replied: "He is erratic and hasn't got a licence. He wasn't the best driver at all to be honest. I was a bit nervous to get in the car with him but didn't want to get a taxi."

McHugh, who has admitted the manslaughter of Rebecca Steer and assault occasioning actual bodily harm of Mr Roberts, denies murder and GBH.

The trial continues.

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