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Two killed by runaway van

Two young people were killed by a runaway van after the driver failed to apply his hand brake properly when he parked it, a court heard today.

David Smith, 24, and Claudia Kauert, 30, were hit by the driverless vehicle as it rolled down a sloping street in the City of London on April 24 last year.

Its driver, Larkland May, 52, who delivers office stationery, had parked on Pudding Lane - a road with an incline of about 5% - to drop off a parcel at nearby Peninsula House.

When the driver of another vehicle unwittingly made contact with the van, it rolled off and struck the two pedestrians one after the other, prosecutor Christopher Hehir told a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Both were pronounced dead the same day.

May is charged with two counts of manslaughter and two alternative counts of causing death by careless driving after the pair were killed in what Mr Hehir described as "utterly tragic circumstances."

May denies the charges.

Mr Hehir said: "The defendant did not apply the hand brake of his van. Whether he forgot to do so altogether or only pulled the hand brake up a little way, the evidences shows the hand brake was not set...

"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."