NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Nathaniel Cooper on trial over Aberdeenshire caravan park crash death

High Court Aberdeen Image copyright Bill Harrison/ Geograph
Image caption The court heard that Mr Cooper had just stepped out of the caravan when the 4x4 hit him

A man has gone on trial accused of causing death by dangerous driving at an Aberdeenshire caravan park.

Nathaniel Cooper is alleged to have struck pensioner Andrew MacKay after losing control of the vehicle at the caravan park in Cumineston, near Turriff.

Mr Cooper, 30, denied the charge at the High Court in Aberdeen.

Sixty five-year-old Mr MacKay died of chest injuries following the incident, which happened on 21 July 2013.

It is alleged that on the day of the crash Mr Cooper had initially been operating the car's clutch, brake and accelerator, while a woman steered from the passenger seat as the pair drove along an unclassified road.

Mr Cooper then allegedly moved his seat back from the pedals at an access road entering the holiday spot, while the woman - 26-year-old Kylie Johnston - moved across to take control of the steering wheel.

Ms Johnston is then said to have been steering the vehicle while sitting on Mr Cooper's lap.

The pair then allegedly drove into the East Balthangie Caravan Park where they lost control of the car, crashed through a fence and collided with Mr MacKay who was standing in front of a caravan.

The jury heard that there were no mechanical defects found on the vehicle to explain the collision.

The court was also told that Ms Johnston did not have a driving licence.

'I'm sorry'

Giving evidence, Mary Dobbin, Mr Mackay's partner of 23 years, said she was sitting in the couple's static caravan reading a book when the car crashed into it.

She said her partner had been cutting up onions and had stepped outside for some fresh air as his eyes were stinging.

She said that moments later there was a loud noise and dishes fell out of the cupboard and smashed on the floor.

She felt the caravan move and she struggled to stand up.

She said: "I started shouting 'Andy' and then I ran through the kitchen looking for Andy and when I got to the door that Andy had gone out there was a car embedded in the door."

Caravan park owner, John Burdon, dashed to the crash scene with his wife Anna as soon as they heard the noise from their house on the outskirts of the site.

The 61-year-old told the court that Mr Cooper and his girlfriend were standing outside the 4X4 vehicle when he arrived and both looked shocked.

He said: "She actually said to me 'I'm sorry'. She was very shocked and distressed."

Mr Burdon said that when he checked underneath the vehicle, he saw Mr MacKay lying face down on the ground.

He told the court two children were inside the car but were later taken out.

In a statement to police he said Mr Cooper had told him that he was letting his girl have a shot of the car and she put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake.

Judge Lord Stewart informed the jury that Kylie Johnston had also faced the same death by dangerous driving charge but she was no longer facing trial with Cooper because she had lodged a plea with the Crown which was accepted.

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