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Student Catherine Hamer killed in head-on crash near Winkleigh, Jack Carter trial told

By NDJNews  |  Posted: October 29, 2012

Catherine Hamer, who died in the head-on crash

A STUDENT was killed in a head-on crash on her way to her mother's birthday party when a young surfer lost control of a minibus on a country road.

Jack Carter, aged 21, was taking a group of three friends to a take away when the minibus swerved onto the wrong side of the road and hit the car being driven by Catherine Hamer.

Catherine, who was in the last year of a business degree, was only a few miles from her mother Kerry Little's home at Frithelstockstone, near Bideford, when she was killed in the crash at Dolton.

Her boyfriend Lee Cawse, from Newton Abbot, was seriously injured and had no memory of what had happened, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Carter and his friends were staying with his parents, who run a minibus hire business at Dolton, and the party had planned to spend the weekend surfing at Westward Ho! but were thwarted by lack of waves.

 Catherine, aged 21, who was doing work experience at Linden Homes in Newton Abbot, was driving from her father Jason Hamer's home in Torquay when the accident happened on the A 3124.

 Carter, of Haines Hill, Taunton, denies causing Catherine's death by careless driving. He says the minibus ran out of control because of loose stones on the road surface.

 Mr Andrew McFarlane, prosecuting, said the accident happened because of a momentary error in driving in which Carter clipped the kerb, over corrected, then lost control.

He said:"This is a tragic case where the life of an innocent young woman was taken as a result of the careless driving of the defendant. On Saturday May 28 last year Catherine Hamer and her boyfriend Lee had been to Torquay to visit her father and were on their way to visit her mother in North Devon in her Peugeot 206 car.

 "She was driving and he was the front sear passenger and were driving through the roads of Devon. Everything went smoothly until they left Winkleigh, which is the last thing Lee can remember because he was injured in the accident.

 "The defendant was travelling in the opposite direction. He had gone for a relaxing weekend with friends at Westward Ho! but the waves were not high enough and they returned to bungalow where they were staying. He was allowed to use a minibus by his parents who run a business hiring them out. He and his friends wanted food and so they got into the bus and set off.

 "He knew the road and the other conditions were not extreme. It was a typical English spring day, in other words there was intermittent rain. The defendant came to a slight right-hand bend where he lost control and the minibus was carried across the road and struck Catherine's vehicle, killing her almost instantaneously.

 "Thousands of vehicles travel on this stretch of road every day. It is not a black spot. It is not a sharp bend. This accident occurred because Carter left his side of the road and crossed to the other.

 "It happened because he was driving carelessly. He was not driving at excessive speed or in a way that did not enable him to take proper note of the road surface.

 "He had other people in the car and we do not know if talking to them may have distracted him. Drink forms no part in this case at all.

 "He made contact with the near side and over corrected. That was the carelessness. He swerved and was still swerving at the time of impact."

Mr McFarlane said Carter told police he felt loose stones under the wheels and the back of the minibus swung out without warning.

The trial continues.

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