Trial begins into death of Neston four-year-old girl Esme Weir run over by transit van

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Staff reporter (Chester Standard)

A LITTLE girl on her way to pre-school with her pregnant mum was knocked off her scooter and run over by a Ford Transit van, a court heard.

The mother of four-year-old Esme Weir wiped away tears as she relived the fateful moment her daughter was killed as they walked along a residential road on January 15 last year after earlier doing some shopping in a nearby supermarket.

Jessica Weir told a jury that shortly before the tragedy they had been waiting to cross Gladstone Road in Neston, South Wirral when the van driver, Peter Williams, who was waiting to cross the junction with Brook Street, waved them across.

“He stopped and saw us and waved me towards the road. I said ‘thank you’ and waved and we crossed the road,” she said.

Her blonde haired daughter, dressed all in pink and glittery shoes, scooted along Gladstone Road about four to five metres in front of her as they hurried to the pre-school group. There were vehicles parked on both sides of the road with some gaps.

“The van drove past me. I didn’t think anything about it. Esme was going ahead and the van came round into the gap and went up on the kerb. Esme was slightly ahead of the van.

“I started to run because I realised what could happen. I dropped my bags and ran. I hit the back of the van. I saw the wheel hit the scooter at the back which made her fall and the wheel went right over her. I couldn’t get there in time,” she told the jury of seven women and five men.

Mrs Weir said the driver “just looked confused at me. I said, ‘what have you done’? and he got out and said, ‘I didn’t see her’.”

She told the court that Esme was always cautious on her scooter and would always stop at junctions.

Questioned by Alistair McDonald, QC, defending, whether she was sure it was the same van which had earlier waved them across the road she replied, “definitely.”

Mrs Weir said that her daughter had been slightly behind the van at first but as it began to turn in she was in front of it. The court has heard that it was the front nearside wheel that struck her and ran over her.

62-year-old Williams, of Poulton Road, Wallasey, denies a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Mrs Weir picked up her daughter and was taken into a nearby house but she had suffered multiple serious traumatic injuries and paramedics and doctors at Arrowe Park Hospital were unable to save her.

Simon Mills, prosecuting, said that the incident happened just before midday “in full clear daylight” as Williams, who worked for Neston Building Supplies, was delivering wood to a house in Gladstone Road.

“He drove onto the pavement intending to park his vehicle half on - half off when he struck Esme, knocking her off her scooter and onto the ground and sadly his front nearside wheel travelled over her body, killing her outright,” he said.

Mr Mills said that while many people do park partly on the pavement the Highway Code bans this practice

“The prosecution case is that Esme should have been visible to the defendant as he made his way along the road and as pulling his vehicle up on the pavement and this awful tragedy cannot be described as an unavoidable accident.”

He said that when questioned by a police officer at the scene Williams said the road was so narrow that he pulled onto the pavement. “There was no one there at the time as I pulled up onto the pavement. There was a scream ‘You’ve knocked my child over’. I got out of the van and there was a little girl next to the back wheel….I don’t know where she came from.”

Williams was described as being traumatised and appeared to be in a daze and a state of shock. He was taken to a police station where he kept asking how the little girl was and an officer had to tell him that she was dead.

Mr Mills said that Steven Leadbetter, the householder to whom Williams was delivering the wood, described the van as “swooping” towards the kerb.

He said he could not see the little girl but saw her mum and could not see why he pulled onto the kerb when there was enough space to pull up by the kerb.

He heard the woman shout ‘no” and he ran over to help. He said the driver seemed “oblivious” and moved forward six or seven feet before stopping. He told the driver,’you just hit the little girl’ and Williams said, ‘what little girl?’

The court that another witness, Rachel Santana, described Williams as swinging into the gap “quite rapidly” and said she did not see him indicate.

Proceeding

See full story in the Chester Leader

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