A British taxi driver has gone on trial after running over a student lying sleeping in the middle of the road, whom he said he mistook for a “bin bag.”
Frank Norman, 71, said he didn’t see Robert Stephenson who had fallen asleep on the road surface after the third-year student had been on a night out involving heavy drinking.
Giving evidence on Thursday, November 33, Mr. Norman told York Crown Court he would have swerved had he known it was a body. He said by the time he saw the 21-year-old, it was too late as his vehicle struck the undergraduate on March 26, 2017.
The taxi driver had been behind the wheel of his Ford Mondeo car with four passengers on board when the accident happened.
Before striking the victim, Mr. Norman claimed he always had his attention on the road ahead of him as he drove in the early hours of the morning.
In cross-examination, the driver said he had been in his vehicle resting or driving for eight hours before the collision around 2.35am.
He insisted also that he had often run over big bags, which invariably in his experience contained either paper or cardboard.
Defense collision expert John Griffin told the trial that Norman’s headlights illuminated Mr. Stephenson’s body too late for him to take evasive action.
He later agreed, however, with prosecution barrister Simon Waley that CCTV footage of the scene showed a second taxi driver braking as he came into view.
Earlier Mr. Waley told the court:
“Mr. Stephenson was stationary and his body remained on the road directly in the path of his Mondeo… the defendant didn’t slow down. He said another taxi had seen the student lying in the road and stopped to avoid hitting him, before Mr. Norman ran over him. The prosecution alleges that the taxi driver did not check it was safe to drive over what was in the road, or he was not keeping a good enough look out.”
“We say that his driving was therefore careless and he therefore caused the death of Mr.Stephenson,” the barrister told the court.