Liverpool

Strictly star Whittle 'asked to be left alone'

Carly Stenson
Image caption Miss Stenson said her ex-boyfriend had urged photographers to stop

Strictly Come Dancing star Ricky Whittle urged photographers to leave him alone moments before allegedly driving into one, a court heard.

Hollyoaks star Carley Stenson told Liverpool Crown Court her ex-boyfriend said: "Come on fellas, please stop".

Mr Whittle is alleged to have struck photographer Stephen Farrell in Liverpool in November 2009.

The 30-year-old, of Billinge, Wigan, denies dangerous driving. The jury has retired to consider its verdict.

Mr Whittle and Miss Stenson had split up three weeks before a Hollyoaks party at Parr Street Studios but had remained friends and did not want to fuel media speculation by being photographed together, the court heard.

'Non-violent bloke'

Mr Whittle, who had agreed to give his ex-girlfriend a lift home from the party, had arranged to pick up Miss Stenson and her friend on nearby Duke Street.

But the women were followed by photographers and autograph hunters, the court heard.

Image caption Mr Whittle denies the charge

Mr Whittle is then alleged to have deliberately driven into Mr Farrell with his red American Dodge car.

CCTV footage was played to the jury showing the car setting off and then veering to the left, knocking the freelance photographer over.

In his closing speech to the jury, Mr Whittle's barrister Stuart Driver QC, conceded the CCTV footage did not help his case.

He said his client "regretted and was ashamed of it but that doesn't mean he intended it".

Referring to Mr Farrell's flashing camera, Mr Driver said: "What happened was the accidental product of complicated and difficult motoring conditions that were created by somebody else."

Mr Driver told jurors his client was not the kind of man to lose his temper.

"He is a man of integrity, self-discipline and very hard working," said the QC.

"He is a man, crucially, of self-restraint and composure. He is an honest man and a non-violent bloke."

Earlier in the trial, Mr Farrell told the court he remembered the sound of the dodge revving before he was "thrown back onto the kerb".

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

Mr Farrell insisted that he might not have taken any pictures if the actor asked him earlier in the night.

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