Somerset

Clevedon house crash death accused 'had driving ban'

Joan Woodier Image copyright Woodier family/SWNS
Image caption Joan Woodier was killed when the van crashed into her house

A man who let his partner drive his van before it crashed into a house, killing a woman inside, has told a court he did not know she had a driving ban.

Joan Woodier, 90, died after being hit by falling masonry when the van crashed into the wall of her house in Yeolands Drive, Clevedon on 18 April last year.

Tracy Bibby, 35, of Rushmoor, Clevedon, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

Ben Chappell told Bristol Crown Court he learned of her ban after the crash.

Jurors were told Ms Bibby had been drinking with her partner Mr Chappell at a pub, before CCTV showed her getting into the driver's seat of the white Ford Transit van.

Both were breathalysed after the crash but neither were found to be over the drink-drive limit.

Mr Chappell told the court Ms Bibby, who he had known for two weeks, told him he would have to say he was driving "because I am on a ban".

Image copyright SWNS
Image caption The van ploughed through a wall and knocked down a supporting lintel

Mr Chappell was asked if it had been possible to switch seats after the crash but he said it would not have been "physically possible" as the gear box protruded out and there would not have been enough space.

He told the court they had driven towards Ms Bibby's home along Yeoland Drive with loud music playing in the van.

He said just before the collision Ms Bibby started to "behave like a Formula One driver" and moved the steering wheel from left to right with one hand, as if "she was warming the tyres".

Mr Chappell told the court that he believed her foot "hit the accelerator as she did not have her seatbelt on, and the van went towards number 49".

He added that "it felt like it [the van] accelerated like a rocket".

Tracy Bibby also denies causing death by careless driving and causing death while driving while disqualified.

The case continues.

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