The trial of a man accused of knocking down and killing a four-year-old girl in his van continues today.
Peter Williams, 62, denies causing the death by dangerous driving of Esme Weir in Gladstone Road, Neston.
The little girl was riding a scooter when she was struck by a van at around noon on January 15 last year.
Esme was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to Arrowe Park Hospital, where she later died.
Delivery driver Williams, of Poulton Road, Wallasey, is standing trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Our colleagues at the Liverpool Echo will be bringing you live updates of day three's proceedings.
Crying in the dock
Williams is crying in the dock with his head in his hands.
Supporters of Mrs Weir are sobbing in the public gallery.
The judge says Williams can now leave the dock.
The clerk asks if they have a verdict. They have.
Williams has been found not guilty.
The jury has already been given a majority direction.
They can return a verdict upon which 10 or more of them are agreed.
The jury has been deliberating for around three hours.
Jury called back into court
The jury is being called back into court.
They have given a note to the judge. It is the second note he has received.
Justice Davis says he will hand them down the directions of law.
He is talking them through their route to verdict.
Jury retires to consider verdict
The jury has now retired to consider its verdict.
Thanks for following my updates this morning.
The live blog will resume when there is any update in the case.
Expert witnesses’ evidence
Justice Davis says experts have considered two scenarios, the first where Williams drove past Mrs Weir and Esme and as he pulled in, Esme moved past the van and was struck by it.
In scenario two she was in front of Williams throughout the time he drove down the road and into the gap and onto the footpath.
He says Mr Edwards favours the second and Mr Green favours the first.
The judge says the jury will have to consider why it is that Williams did not see Esme.
He says they will have to consider all the evidence and bring their experience of the world to bear.
He says they will consider the counsel’s arguments but their arguments are not evidence.
The judge says he is asking them to reach a unanimous verdict - a decision they all agree on.
He says they will have to nominate a jury foreman to return that verdict.
Justice Davis says: “The only thing I demand and it is a demand is a true and fair verdict based on all of the evidence you have heard.”
Williams say he drove at 10mph, got to the position of the Citroen, stopped, checked his left hand view, engaged first gear, indicated and swung onto the pavement.
When his back wheel was still on the road he heard a lady scream “my child” and then drove on until both of his wheels were on the pavement and only then became aware of the collision.
Mrs Weir’s account was that they went down the pavement and Esme was slightly behind the van.
She said by the time of the collision Esme was just in front of the van. Realising what might happen she dropped her shopping bag, ran forward, saw the front nearside wheel hit the back of her scooter, then go over her.
Mr Leadbetter who came back to meet the delivery van said it did not stop. He cannot say if it indicated. He recalled it turning in quite sharply at an angle. He said it slowed as it went on the pavement and there was change in the engine note as if struggling to mount the kerb.
He said he could still see Esme and was concerned the path of the van was going towards her.
Ms Santana’s evidence is that she drove up the road and stopped to let the van pull in ahead of her. She said it swung in quite rapidly to her right and its left. She thought it had done it a bit fast.
She said it hit the kerb and juddered to a halt. She was not aware of it indicating but was not paying close attention.
The judge says they will have to ask did he stop as he says and carefully check the pavement and had he done, would he have seen Mrs Weir.
He says if he did not stop and just drove on the pavement in the belief no-one was there, was that below the standards of a careful and competent driver, and if so, how far below.
The judge says the pavement is for pedestrians but driving onto a pavement and breaching the Highway Code is not enough to be guilty of an offence.
He says the jury may think the suggestion that Williams was trying to nab Ms Santana’s space does not fit in with the evidence and whether he was trying to get out of the way.
He says Williams’ account is that he had absolutely no recollection of letting them cross the road whatsoever. He does not say it did not happen but says he cannot recall it.
The judge says questions arising from that are that if he did let them across the road then should he have been aware of them and had them in his mind at the point he drove onto the pavement.
The judge says they will have to consider what was his view of them as they went down the pavement on his left hand side as he drove down the road.
He says the jury will have to consider the photographs taken by the experts in the case of the street and consider Williams’ view from his cab.
Justice Davis says Williams said he did not see anyone walking down the pavement but saw a woman standing by a doorway. He later came to the conclusion that she was the mum of the child he struck. When asked if she ever stopped to stand still, she said she did not.
Mr Green says Esme would have only been in view for very small periods of time as Williams went down the road as his view was blocked by numerous cars.
Mr Edwards said she would have been in view for some of the time as Williams went down Gladstone Road before she reached the Citroen.
The judge says the jury will have to ask would Esme have been visible to Williams if he looked properly and would his mum have been.
Judge summing up
Mr Justice William Davis will now sum up the case.
He says they will want to ask when Williams was first aware of Esme and her mum.
He says according to Mrs Weir, they left Sainsbury’s, reached the junction of Brook Street and Gladstone Road, and when she wanted to cross Gladstone Road, a car moved out of the way and then Williams’ Neston Building Services van appeared and the driver waved her across.
By her account they were plainly there to be seen by him as he waved them across.
Steven Leadbetter’s evidence is that he went up the road to do an errand and he saw Esme and her mum coming under the bridge on Brook Street.
He saw the van on Tannery Lane, realised it was his delivery, turned back and he said he saw Mrs Weir and Esme being allowed to cross by the van.
In a witness statement made shortly after the event he said he first saw them walking down Gladstone Road.
The judge says if that is correct would they still have been there for him to see when he returned to Gladstone Road.
“A broken man”
Mr MacDonald says if his client did everything he could he abided by the standards of a careful and competent driver.
He says Williams gave evidence and the jury saw how distressed he was. He says: “It’s clear he is a broken man.”
He says they may think his life has been destroyed. He will never drive again. He told police repeatedly how sorry he was.
Mr MacDonald says his client was left in “utter bewilderment” asking himself “where did she come from?”
He says tragic accidents do happen but Williams is not guilty.
Defence expert view
He says Mr Green takes the view, which they say is right, that Mrs Weir’s evidence was clear and that her evidence fits with the measurements that we have.
He says Mrs Weir had to run to catch up with the van, which was around six metres long, over an estimated two metres.
If Esme was around five metres ahead of Mrs Weir and she is two metres behind the tipper, Esme would have been well behind the front of the tipper when she was struck.
He says we also know that she was struck by the front nearside wheel and not the front bumper.
Mr MacDonald says it does not matter what she was wearing - whether it was bright clothing - or if her head was bobbing up and down as she was riding the scooter if he could not physically see her.
He says unless Williams had X-ray vision he could not have seen her through the parked cars.
Mr MacDonald says Williams must have been talking about Mrs Weir when he said he saw a woman on the pavement further back from where he parked and that it supports Mr Green’s analysis.
He is now talking about the positions of other vehicles on the road and talking the jury through photographs of the scene.
He says if Esme had been next to a Citroen Xsara just before the gap she would have only been visible in the extreme left of his side mirror.
Mr MacDonald says that Mr Green agreed that Esme would have been obscured from view and when she moved forward coming from the rear of the van “converged” with the van as it drove onto the pavement.
Mr Green said for a very short period she would have been visible through the side windows of the vehicle, but Mr MacDonald says in order to see her, Williams would have had to be looking at precisely the right point and precisely the right time.
He says that Mr Green said Williams could have performed all the necessary checks and still not seen Esme because of the angles involved, the presence of parked vehicle and the way Esme was moving and her position in relation to the vehicle.
He says this explains how Williams, a massively experienced driver, became involved in this tragedy and catastrophic incident.
Mr MacDonald says we cannot be exact about the speeds of Esme and her mum, Williams’ vehicle, the time it took him to drive down the street or make the manoeuvre or the exact place where he struck Esme. He says there is no fixed starting point for the estimations made by the prosecution’s expert John Edwards.
He says Mr Edwards opinion is that Esme was in front of the van throughout the incident.
Mr MacDonald says that does not fit with the evidence of Mrs Weir, that her daughter was behind the van before the collision.
He says the defence expert Steven Green says if Esme had been ahead of the van, when she was in the gap she would have been plainly there for Williams to see.
The lawyer says there is not a chance Williams would have turned onto the pavement if she had been in the position in that gap because his client would have seen her.
Mr MacDonald says Williams was in a state of shock after the collision.
He says he does not recall allegedly telling the first police officer at the scene that Esme had run in front of his vehicle.
The lawyer says his brain was trying to make sense of what had happened.
He says it is no attempt at lying and if he wanted to maintain that account he could have said it in his police interview but he did not.
An honest man
What Williams said in evidence corresponds with his previous accounts, his lawyer says.
He said the only woman he saw was a woman standing by a doorway. He did not recall seeing Ms Santana.
Mr MacDonald says the only difference in his evidence was when he said he previously parked on the kerb when he visited Gladstone Road on a previous occasion, when in his police statement he said he parked on the road. He says this one mistake actually harms his case and he said he was confused at the time. It was not a deliberate lie he says. He says: “This is not a man seeking to weave a web of lies.”
Mrs Weir says Esme was about five metres ahead of her and that she was walking quickly and Esme was scooting quickly as they were running late.
Mr MacDonald says Mrs Weir remembers Esme being behind the van and then moving forward.
She was clear that the front nearside wheel of the van struck the back of her scooter, not the front nearside bumper.
He says this caused her to fall off and then the wheel tragically ran over her.
Mr MacDonald says the defendant gave evidence with no obligation to do so. He says if he had not the jury could have drawn an adverse influence for him not giving an explanation.
He suggest this could never have been drawn the jury may think as he gave an explanation at the scene which was written down and in a voluntary interview.
He said repeatedly he had not seen Esme despite looking in his mirror and making the appropriate checks.
Cross the road
Mr MacDonald says Mrs Weir is “adamant” that Williams allowed her and Esme to cross the road. He says Mr Leadbetter now says this too, but did not in his police statement.
He says Williams has always said he had no recollection of this. He is not suggesting Mrs Weir is telling lies, he says he has no recollection of this happening.
He was deeply affected and shocked by what happened, the lawyer says.
Another witness Rachel Santana said she was using her sat nav and not paying minute attention to the van.
Mr MacDonald says the prosecution have speculated that Williams tried to “nab the space” that Ms Santana may have driven into, but her evidence is that she was waiting for his vehicle to move first.
He says this never entered Williams’ mind. He says this is all speculation based on her saying she thought the van moved into the space quickly.
The lawyer says it is easy to make such an allegation but the evidence shows there is no foundation from it.
Mr MacDonald is now talking to the jury about their possible verdicts. He says they can only find Williams guilty if they reach the very top rung of a ladder of surety.
The lawyer says his client was well-rested. He had not taken alcohol or drugs and there is no suggestion he was using his mobile phone at the time. He did not have a stack of calls to make that day and was not under any pressure to make the delivery at that time.
“I did not see the little girl.”
Mr MacDonald says Williams is a man whose word the jury can trust. He says he was “brutally honest” when giving evidence.
He says: “As he said, ‘I did not see the little girl. As far as I could see the pavement is clear otherwise there is no way I would have performed that manoeuvre.’”
Careful and competent driver
The lawyer says his client has no previous convictions and is a man of good character.
Mr MacDonald says as a driver, Williams’ record speaks for itself. He drives every day and has a clean licence.
He has one endorsement for speeding when he got three points many years ago.
Williams has had one accident before and that was not his fault.
He says he comes before the jury as a safe, careful and competent driver of 43 years.
Mr MacDonald says it was an ordinary day at work. Williams was not tired, he was not under pressure due to time, he did not have any medical issues and was working as normal.
Williams was not setting out to injure or kill anyone but to make a delivery to a client in a residential street.
He says Williams was driving with the same level of care he always had.
“He could not see her”
The lawyer says it is clear in the evidence of Williams that “he was competent and careful but because of the angles and blockages caused by parked cars he simply could not see her”.
Mr MacDonald says when Williams came into Gladstone Road looking for a place to park he did not know what would happen. He was looking at events without the benefit of hindsight. He says please do not fall into the hindsight trap.
Mr MacDonald asks the jury who can put their hands on their heart and say they have never parked on the pavement or broken the Highway Code.
He says all the defence ask is that the jury apply realistic, down to earth standards in this case.
The lawyer asks how many people would have known you cannot park on the pavement in breach of the Highway Code.
He says so many residents and other people did on the narrow road which is Gladstone Road, because it was the safest thing to do and allowed cars to pass on the road and people to pass on the pavement.
“Do not confuse fault with consequence”
Mr MacDonald says his client is a hard working and decent man of good character.
He says: “Please do not confuse fault with consequence. The consequences of this collision could not have been more catastrophic but just because that is so, it does not mean there has to have been fault of the driver.”
He says no driver can be looking everywhere at once and the law does not demand a driver is perfect.
Mr MacDonald says being careful and competent does not mean gold plated perfection.
He says no driver can have their eyes everywhere. He says sometimes accidents do happen despite the meeting of the standard of the law and things do go wrong.
Defence closing speech
Mr MacDonald says this case could not be more tragic or more emotionally charged.
He says the circumstances must speak for themselves. He says you would have to have a heart of granite not to feel sympathy for the loss the family have suffered.
The lawyer says it is however their case that Williams did meet the standards of driving required.
He says a hard headed and rational analysis of the evidence is required.
Mr MacDonald makes the comparison of a doctor treating a seriously ill child who has to think coolly and analytically and put their emotion to one side.
He says: “Being hard headed does not mean being hard hearted.”
Williams in the dock
Williams has appeared in the dock.
He has short grey hair and is wearing a grey suit, grey shirt and dark tie.
Trial judge and counsel
The judge for the trial is Mr Justice William Davis.
Simon Mills is prosecuting the trial.
Alistair MacDonald, QC, is defending Williams.
Good morning, I’m Neil, the Echo’s Liverpool Crown Court reporter.
I’ll be live-blogging the third day of this trial today.