Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Hunt supporter died 'instantly' from gyrocopter blade

Bryan Griffiths - archive image
Bryan Griffiths denies manslaughter by gross negligence

A hunt supporter was killed instantly when he was hit by a gyrocopter's propeller blade spinning at 200mph, a court heard.

Bryan Griffiths, 54, of Bedworth, has pleaded not guilty of the manslaughter of Trevor Morse by gross negligence.

Mr Morse, a committee member with the Warwickshire Hunt, died at Long Marston Airfield, Stratford-upon-Avon, in 2009.

Prosecutors told the court Mr Morse's head was split and his death was instantaneous.

Birmingham Crown Court heard Mr Morse had been trying to stop Mr Griffiths, of Wiltshire Close, Bedworth, from taking off at the airport after stopping to refuel.

The court also heard Mr Morse, 48, refused to move out of the way as Mr Griffiths moved towards him and he was caught by the rear propeller - which was spinning at nearly 200mph.

We say the defendant deliberately chose to drive quickly at Mr Morse and face the consequences, when he could have driven slowly towards Mr Morse until he had a gap
Gareth Evans QC

The incident happened on 9 March 2009.

Prosecuting, Gareth Evans QC said Mr Morse had been deliberately trying to stop the gyrocopter from taking off.

"That gyrocopter was being driven by this defendant along the runway of Long Marston airfield in Warwickshire," he said.

"The blade of the rear propeller cleaved Mr Morse's head from top to bottom. Mercifully death was instantaneous."

Mr Griffiths is criminally liable for the death, he said.

"We say he is guilty of manslaughter, we say he caused Trevor Morse's death by his own gross negligence."

Stand off

Mr Morse had spotted the gyrocopter going to Long Marston to refuel. He got in a Land Rover with another hunt supporter and went to confront the pilot.

The jury was shown a video clip of a stand off between the two.

A voice can be heard telling Mr Morse that he is obstructing take-off, and the propellers can be heard to speed up, followed by a bang.

The video is then cut at that point, then cut again to show him lying on the ground.

Mr Evans said there was no doubt that Mr Morse wanted to stop the gyrocopter from taking off.

He also said Mr Griffiths had not gently inched his way in the gyrocopter towards Mr Morse but had travelled at speed.

"We say the defendant deliberately chose to drive quickly at Mr Morse and face the consequences, when he could have driven slowly towards Mr Morse until he had a gap."

'Just not on'

In an interview, Mr Griffiths had told police he was aiming for a gap when he drove the gyrocopter and the jury were asked to consider this when watching the video.

Mr Evans said Mr Griffiths was saying he did nothing criminal and that his actions may have been deliberate but out of necessity.

The prosecutor told the court: "We say that's just not on.

"Mr Morse had made no threats, he had made no attempts to take the keys or prevent the refuelling operation and we say at all times was adopting a passive, obstructive stance."

The case continues.

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