Strictly Come Dancing star 'frustrated' at pictures bid

Ricky Whittle, arriving at court
Image caption Mr Whittle denies the charge

Strictly Come Dancing star Ricky Whittle struck a photographer with his car to "vent his frustration" at being followed for pictures, a court heard.

The former Hollyoaks actor was giving a lift to ex-girlfriend Carley Stenson after a party when the incident happened, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

He deliberately turned the wheel of his Dodge car towards photographers and hit Stephen Farrell, the prosecution said.

Mr Whittle, 30, of Billinge, Wigan, denies dangerous driving.

The court heard that he had been attending a Hollyoaks cast and crew party at Liverpool's Parr Street studios before the incident at 0130 GMT on 27 November 2009.

Paul Becker, prosecuting, said the actor had been in "no mood" for the paparazzi to take photographs of him and his ex-girlfriend so arranged to pick her up once they had lost the photographers.

But Miss Stenson, and friend Helen Splaine, were followed to nearby Duke Street where Mr Whittle tried to pick them up.

The court heard that Mr Farrell was taking pictures next to Mr Whittle's Dodge, but not blocking it, when the car suddenly veered to the left and struck him.

Mr Becker said: "The prosecution's case is that the defendant, irritated by the presence of the paparazzi, had deliberately turned his wheel to the left in order to vent his frustration towards Mr Farrell.

"He deliberately turned his wheel to the left, knocking Mr Farrell to the ground."

Mr Farrell was treated in hospital for a sprained knee and injured hand.

Miss Stenson later phoned a photographer friend to find out what had happened and learned that Mr Farrell had contacted police. Mr Whittle later voluntarily attended St Helens Police Station.

The prosecutor told the court that both men gave different accounts of what was said before the collision.

"Whatever was said did not deter Stephen Farrell from doing his job and taking photographs," he said.

"The rules of the road apply if you are a celebrity or normal member of the public," Mr Becker added.

Punched by Gazza

Mr Farrell, under cross examination from defence barrister, Stuart Driver QC, said "the picture to have" was the couple back together after recently splitting.

"With celebrities, it's a game," said Mr Farrell.

"That's what it is.

"We are together, we are not together."

He said he remembered hearing the Dodge revving near him then suddenly he was on the floor having been thrown back on the kerb.

The photographer, who the court heard was punched in the face by Gazza in 2005, said normally Mr Whittle was professional and calm when being photographed.

Mr Farrell told the court that he believed that once someone is in the public eye then they have become a celebrity.

"You have to put up with the bad as well as the good," he said.

He added that if Mr Whittle had asked him earlier in the night not to take pictures he might have respected that.

"I have done it before," he said, saying he had declined to sell images of Hollyoaks stars drunk and covered in vomit.

The trial continues.

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