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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Player 'regrets' fleeing scene
Lee Hughes
Lee Hughes admits leaving the scene of the accident
Footballer Lee Hughes says he fled the scene of a fatal crash because he panicked but regretted it, a court heard on Thursday.

When he did turn himself in to police, 36 hours after the crash, he refused to give a full account of where he had been, Coventry Crown Court was told.

Douglas Graham, 56, died when the car he was in was struck by a Mercedes CL55 near Coventry, on 23 November 2003.

The West Bromwich Albion striker denies causing death by dangerous driving.

'Lost control'

The court heard that in an interview with West Midlands Police detectives, father-of-two Hughes said he fled with his childhood friend and passenger Adrian Smith.

The pair ran towards the nearby A45 dual carriageway, but when pressed to say where they went next, he said: "Do I have to answer? I would rather not say, really."

He was asked again and admitted he went to Mr Smith's home in Smethwick, more than 20 miles away, but would not say how they got to Smethwick.

The 28-year-old said: "I put my brakes on to stop and the brakes locked. Then I lost control of the vehicle, lost control and hit another vehicle.

"I hit my head on the sun visor, I hit my head and there was panic. I just panicked and ran off. I didn't know what to do, I was just so scared."

Asked why he ran from the scene and then disappeared, he told police: "I just found out someone has passed away and I just, I just don't know. It just shocks you."

'Not proud'

The court heard that he said he knew that under the law accidents had to be reported to police within 24 hours.

But he told police he was "definitely not" over the legal drink-drive limit as he set off for home with friends, after drinking two Jack Daniels and coke at local pubs.

The officers also asked the player if he felt driving at an estimated 50mph in spitting rain on a wet, unlit road was the "correct speed", to which Hughes replied: "I thought it was OK."

Giving evidence on Thursday, Hughes said his car acted in a way that he had never seen before.

"I tried to steer and nothing happened, " he said.

Describing his actions after the crash, he said he remembered being in a crash and hearing shouting and screaming but he added he was not at all "proud" about leaving the scene of the accident.

Hughes has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of the accident and failing to report the incident within 24 hours.

The trial continues.

Brakes on Hughes's car 'perfect'
04 Aug 04  |  West Midlands
Hughes 'drove like madman' claim
03 Aug 04  |  West Midlands
Footballer 'avoided breath test'
02 Aug 04  |  West Midlands

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