Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Propeller victim 'did not move' away from gyrocopter

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

A woman who saw her companion's head split by the rear propeller of a gyrocopter has told a court how he did not move out of the way.

Trevor Morse died instantly when he was struck by the propeller, moving at a speed of nearly 200mph, at Long Marston Airfield, Warwickshire, in 2009.

Bryan Griffiths, 55, of Wiltshire Close, Bedworth, denies a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Julie Sargeant said Mr Morse was trying to stop the machine from taking off.

Mr Griffiths had been monitoring the Warwickshire Hunt, of which Mr Morse was a committee member, from the air.

The court has heard hunt master Anthony Spencer and Mr Morse had a plan to stop the gyrocopter from taking off when it landed to refuel so they could confront the pilot.

When the pilot did stop at the airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon Mr Morse parked a Land Rover "right up to the nose" of the gyrocopter, Ms Sargeant said.

It (the engine) started and then it moved forward and hit Trevor
Julie Sargeant

Ms Sargeant, who travelled to the airfield with Mr Morse, said she initially stayed inside the Land Rover because she "did not want to get involved".

She said Mr Morse had stood in front of the gyrocopter, to the left hand side of it.

Mr Morse then beckoned her out of the car, she said, but she moved away when the gyrocopter's engine started. Mr Morse remained where he was.

"He was just stood there, he was just stood there," she said.

"I can remember thinking 'oh right, they are going to start it'.

"Not at one point did I ever think there was any real danger."

Ms Sargeant said she had wanted to leave as it looked like "tempers may get a bit sore".

"It (the engine) started and then it moved forward and hit Trevor," she said.

"I'm not aware of anything after that, other than trying to get an ambulance and someone to come to me."

Pilot evidence

On Tuesday, the jury were shown an edited video of the incident.

Mr Spencer said he had been at a funeral when Mr Morse rang him to say he was on his way to put the plan into action.

"I said I'd make my way there as well and whoever got there first should park their vehicle next to it [the gyrocopter] to prevent it from taking off," he said.

Defending lawyer James Wood QC asked if Mr Spencer had planned to take the law into his own hands but Mr Spencer said all they were trying to do was to prevent the gyrocopter from taking off for long enough to get evidence as to who the pilots were.

The trial has been adjourned until Thursday.

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