A PROFESSIONAL driver accused of failing to stop and report a collision which caused the death of a young father said he had no idea he had struck a person.
Matthew James, of Stoneylawn in Winterborne Kingson, told a court this morning that he had been driving to work on the Upton Bypass shortly before 6am on Saturday, September 14 last year when he heard an "impact" and realised his left wing mirror had been knocked off.
The 27-year-old also realised that his windscreen had been partially smashed along the left hand side.
However, he said he had no idea of what he had hit, and assumed the crash involved wildlife.
In fact, his van had struck 23-year-old Daniel Robbie of Throop Close in Bournemouth, who had been riding a micro-scooter home along the unlit stretch of road.
The young man’s body was found partially concealed in undergrowth by a family member 32 hours later.
"As I was looking in my right wing mirror, I felt this thud on the side of the vehicle," he said.
"I believed it was an animal of some sort."
He said he didn't brake or stop the Toyota van, but instead returned minutes later in a work vehicle to see if he could find any evidence of damage.
"I had my hazard lights on and I was travelling between 10 and 15 miles per hour," he said.
"I saw a bit of road debris but nothing that stood out."
He took a photograph of the damage to his van, texting it to his girlfriend and telling her he had struck a badger.
"It just came running out of the bank and straight into the road," he told her.
James admitted in police interview and before magistrates that the account was untrue, and he had not seen anything in the "pitch dark".
However, the following day, the defendant read a report on the Daily Echo's website about the closure of the Upton Bypass because of an 'incident'.
Later that day, the article was updated to say that a man had been killed along the stretch of road.
Prosecutor Charles Nightingale said that James had searched Google on his phone in the early hours of the next morning - Monday, September 16 - for the term 'crush my car'.
Later that day, James was contacted by friends who told him he was being sought by police, and he made two calls to the force to provide officers with his details.
He asked the defendant: “Do you accept that by simply driving off you don’t know what you’ve hit and you’re not going to find out?
“You’ve already said you know you’re obliged to stop at the point of an accident.”
James replied: “Yes.”
The prosecutor said: “You just carried on to work.
“You got there, looked at your vehicle and you knew – you have accepted that straight away it couldn’t have been an animal that you hit. You then embark on a series of lies,” adding: “You gave a positive statement, ‘I have hit a badger’ – every time you said it, you knew it was untrue.”
James denies failing to stop at the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident.
The trial, at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court, continues.