London

Two killed by van left on slope 'without handbrake'

Two people were killed when a van rolled down a slope after the driver failed to apply the handbrake, Southwark Crown Court has heard.

Prosecutors said when Larkland May, 52, left his vehicle to deliver a parcel in the City of London in April 2009 it was an "accident waiting to happen".

The van was nudged by a car and sent rolling down Pudding Lane into Dave Smith and Claudia Kauert.

Mr May denies manslaughter and causing death by careless driving.

'Junction blocked'

Prosecutor Christopher Hehir said when Mr May parked the Mercedes Sprinter van at about 1315 BST on 24 April he did not put the handbrake on.

"The application of only a small amount of force would have been enough to set it rolling down the road.

"It was an accident waiting to happen," Mr Hehir said.

Mr May had been working for stationery company Lyreco for almost a year and was regarded as a good employee, Mr Hehir said.

When he parked up to make a delivery to nearby Peninsula House he partially blocked the narrow junction into Monument Street.

The van was parked on an incline of about 5% and contravening the Highway Code Mr May failed to leave it in first gear and did not leave the wheels turned towards the curb.

Mr Hehir said: "In these circumstances it's vitally important your vehicle's hand brake is properly applied... That's simple common sense which would be obvious to any competent and careful driver.

"Disaster did strike only a short time after he left his vehicle."

Drivers faced a tight squeeze if they wanted to make a right turn into Pudding Lane, he said.

When accidentally knocked by a car driven by a BBC cameraman it was sent rolling along Pudding Lane and into Mr Smith and Ms Kauert.

The case continues.

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