DRIVER Michael Wood took to the witness stand to give evidence in his trial on Monday - the anniversary of the crash that killed Tristan Cook and Dominic Arnold.
Wood, 18, of Woodlands Drive, Hoole, denies causing death by dangerous driving on the A41 on December 10, 2006.
He has admitted dangerous driving on Sainsbury’s and Broxton car parks on December 9, when he did hand brake turns and wheel spins.
Chester Crown Court heard the former Christleton High School sixth former had passed his driving test on the first attempt in June 2006, and often used his mother’s VW Polo to drive to Army Cadet training at Chester Castle and to his part-time job at the Ramada Hotel in Christleton.
He said most of the time he had only driven by himself or with one other person in the car.
The only time he was stopped by police was near Total Fitness in Liverpool Road, when he forgot to indicate at the roundabout.
He told the court: “It made me nervous that the police would stop me again generally for being a young driver. It made me more cautious on the roads and aware of the possibility of being stopped.”
Talking about the way he drove on December 9 at Broxton car park he said: “I admit driving around the car park doing wheel spins and a few hand bake turns in the turning circle. “Also we would drive up to parked cars in the car park, park up next to them and try to intimidate them and make them feel.. embarassed I suppose. I did five hand brake turns.”
Wood said he stopped ‘driving erratically’ after he misjudged the space he had behind him after a hand brake turn and reversed into a bank.
He said: “I was really worried because it damaged my mum’s car and I knew I would have to explain to her that I had been doing hand brake turns.”
Before leaving the car park he made rear seat passengers Tristan Cook and Scott Ajerlo finish their cigarettes so the car wouldn’t smell of smoke when he returned it to his mother.
As they left the car park they realised Dominic Arnold had been left behind, so he climbed in across the laps of the other boys and sat in the middle of the back seat.
Wood said: “We set off from Broxton and up to the A41.
“I wasn’t aware of Matthew Ferguson trying to overtake at the time. Most of the events were insignificant events that we have suddenly been asked to remember and give accounts of because of what happened later.”
Witness Daniel Wilson says that at the bend by the entrance to Bolesworth Castle Wood’s wheels drifted out and he lost control in some way.
But Wood told the court: “It didn’t happen. I was doing 60 mph on the straight, that is a very slight bend so I eased off and slowed down using my brakes, probably to 50mph.
“I didn’t accelerate fast out of the bend but there may have been a slight increase so I was doing maybe 55 or 60 before the next bend, then I started slowing down again for it.
“I prepared to make it, braked quite gently, moved the car into fourth gear.
“I remember at some point during the bend I felt like there was a dip in the road. As I could see round the other side of the bend I noticed another car coming towards me.
“Shortly after seeing that I remember feeling something wasn’t right, the car was losing control, the back wheels had stepped out, they were running outside the line of the front wheelse and stepped out towards the opposite carriageway and started to slide.
“I had never experienced it before.
“I tried to steer the car back into a straight line and turn the steering wheel the opposite way to the road. It was like an instinctive reaction. Everything happened so fast I don’t know how what I did caused what reaction.”
Wood was first interviewed by police the afternoon after the crash, and an edited transcript of the interview was read out in court.
Wood told police: “I remember approaching the corner, losing control and trying to regain it again. The next thing aI knew was talking to people in the car while we were upside down and trying to get out.
“If I was doing the corner again I would have gone 10mph less but at the time I felt that at that speed I was in control of that car.”
Cross-examining Wood, prosecutor Owen Edwards questioned how a car being driven in the manner described could lose control so dramatically.
Wood said: “I don’t know.”
He also questioned why Wood had changed some elements of his evidence since first being interviewed, partcularly why he did not tell police he did hand brake turns on Sainsbury’s car park before going to Broxton.
Wood said he had not considered those things as relevant to the crash later that night.
He said his driving on roads that night was measured and sensible, and that witnesses who said he had done hand brake turns on roundabouts and jumped red lights were lying to the court.
The cross examination will continue on Tuesday.