Girl 'pulled steering wheel of death crash Mini'

A Mini crammed with seven people swerved into a tree killing the driver after a 15-year-old girl in the front seat pulled the steering wheel, a court heard today.

Lee Waite, 21, died moments after the girl - now charged with manslaughter - allegedly pulled the wheel sharply to the left in February last year.

She was sitting in the front seat on a male passenger's knee when she was said to have caused the crash in Bromley, Kent, jurors were told.

Four others were crammed into the back of the vehicle, one of whom, another 15-year-old girl, was left badly injured.

Two of those who were in the car told detectives that the girl in the front seat pulled on the steering wheel.

Sarah Whitehouse, prosecuting, said: "She leaned over, grabbed the steering wheel, and pulled it sharply to the left, causing the fatal consequences."

But the defendant, who is now 17 and cannot be named because of her age, said she had not done so and was shocked that it should be suggested.

Her parents sat in court at the Old Bailey as Mrs Whitehouse opened the case against their daughter.

Jurors heard members of the group of friends, including the driver, had been drinking at a pub then watching DVDs at a house and went to get cigarettes and alcohol from a garage 10 minutes away in the early hours of the morning.

The crash took place on the way back.

Mrs Whitehouse said: "Seven of them got into Lee Waite's Mini Cooper. As you might imagine, it was a bit of a squash."

The defendant was in the front on 18-year-old Richard Rutter's lap, with a 17-year-old youth and three girls aged 15 "crammed into the back", the jury was told.

Mr Waite was driving "well in excess of the speed limit" and a driver called Claire Carey said she was overtaken by him at up to 60mph, Mrs Whitehouse said.

It was Mrs Carey, an ambulance technician, who later called 999 and helped the injured passengers.

Mrs Whitehouse said: "It was a bright clear dry night with no frost and no ice and yet his car swerved off the road and hit a tree."

The force of the impact caused the engine to fall out and the vehicle spun round and went into a wall, jurors were told.

"Lee Waite was still conscious at the time of the crash but he died soon after," said Mrs Whitehouse.

The court heard that the defendant "expressed her shock" at the suggestion that she had pulled the wheel before the crash.

Mrs Whitehouse told the jury: "It is a very tragic case but a simple one. The only issue is whether or not (the defendant) pulled that wheel round to the left."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine