DAY ONE - MONDAY ON Monday, prosecutors told Chester Crown Court the crash was ‘an accident waiting to happen’. Michael Wood was indicted with a new charge of dangerous driving and he pleaded guilty, but submitted a basis of plea statement saying he was not driving dangerously on public roads. He still denies a charge of causing death by dangerous driving. Matthew George Ferguson, of Little Heath Road, Christleton, also 18, denies driving dangerously. Outlining the case, prosecutor Owen Edwards said Wood lost control after taking two consecutive bends near Dragonhall on the A41 at speed. Mr Edwards told the court: “The prosecution say the driving of these young men before the collision was dangerous. In particular, the driving at Broxton in that car park speaks volumes about their driving. “It isn’t the most difficult bend – a careful driver would have taken account of the fact the Volkswagon Polo was fully laden, it was dark and damp. “They would have taken notice of any earlier loss of control. “The Crown says Wood does none of these things. He took risk after risk after risk until he took a risk too far. “It was his friends, tragically, who paid with their lives.” The jury heard evidence from Scott Ajerlo, of Huntington, the
DAY TWO - TUESDAY TWELVE jurors visited the crash scene on Tuesday morning. The A41 was closed for about 10 minutes as jurors walked around 40 metres from the entrance of Dragonhall estate to the tree the car hit after it spun out of control. Orange flowers, ribbons and cards mark the tree that the car hit. On Tuesday afternoon the jury heard that Dominic Arnold was not supposed to travel home in the car he died in, but jumped in minutes before the crash. Robert Shacklady, 19, of Boughton, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of Wood’s
only surviving rear-seat passenger in Wood’s VW Polo. He said: “As we approached the bend I remember a sudden jolt of the car, which is when we began to lose control. The rear end of the car spun to the right then there was a jolt which caused us to spin again and turn a full U-turn. “I could see headlights of a car coming from the Broxton direction. There was a jolt that forced us up then we hit the tree. “When we stopped I went to reach for my seatbelt to get out but then became unconscious. “Someone started to pull me out of the vehicle by my arm but I came to and crawled out myself.” Prosecuting, Owen Edwards said: “By this stage Danny Wilson and Wesley Hardy were there. They were concerned about you – it appeared as though you were bleeding, but it wasn’t your blood.” Mr Ajerlo told the court that on the way to Broxton Michael Wood had overtaken two cars just before a corner. After the crash Robert Shacklady, of Boughton, who had been in the front seat of Wood’s car, told his friends to say Wood had been driving at 30mph. Mr Ajerlo told the court: “I didn’t say anything at the time, but I remember thinking that’s ridiculous. He was trying to cover up for his buddy.”
car, said Dominic had been left behind at Broxton car park and ran over to the car as it left. Mr Shacklady, a Christleton High School sixth-former at the time, explained he was in shock when, after the crash, he told his friends to say they were travelling at 30mph. He said: “I didn’t have a clear head on me at all, I had just been in a car crash. “I have apologised for saying it, I didn’t even know what I was doing at the time. “I said it because I didn’t want Woody to get into trouble, but with the significance of the accident you can’t do that.”
NEWS TheChronicle December 7, 2007
CRASH SCENE: Michael Wood’s VW Golf left the road near Dragonhall on the A41 and struck this tree, landing defendant Michael James Wood, victim Tristan Cook and defendant Matthew George Ferguson.
Tristan Cook, 16, whose father Hadyn Cook and mother Meriel Pritchard live in Waverton and Littleton, was in the rear nearside seat and died at the scene. Dominic Arnold, also 16, of Boughton, whose step-father is dentist Damien Murphy of Christleton’s Rock House dental practice, was sitting next to him. He was taken to the Countess of Chester hospital, where he died just after 3am. The trial, involving up to 20 witnesses, is expected to last until next Wednesday.
Two young drivers are this week on trial for the crash that killed their former schoolfriends. REBECCA EDWARDS reports on events in the first four days in court then went to Broxton car park to ‘wind up’ people they believed were doggers. The group left Broxton Car Park at around midnight and headed home to Chester. At 12.07am Michael Wood lost control of his car on the left-hand bend by Dragonhall, near to Jackson’s Timber and Dragonhall Police Station. The car spun 180 degrees, hit a sign, then a kerb and became airborne, hitting a tree, spinning in the air and landing on its roof.
Tributes left to victims ■ Pam Pudvine: A Year on... Beautiful boys who will be loved and missed forever but living in the hearts of so many - Till we all meet again. ■ Aleena: I miss you Tris and Dom so much. and every day i think of you. this shouldnt of happened. you should still be here. i wish i could just spend a hour with you both for one last time. we might of out lived you, but your memories will out live us. love you both r.i.p. ■ Gibbs family: Meriel, Haydyn, Briony, Tamsin, and all the family: We are thinking of you especially now as the year comes to an end, and hope that you can draw some comfort from the fact that so many people are sharing your sorrow. We remember both boys always, and send our love and respect.
TheChronicle December 7, 2007
upside down in the field. (Inset - top to bottom) Victim Dominic Arnold,
DAY FOUR - THURSDAY
A TEENAGER says Michael Wood drove at up to 70mph in Hoole and Boughton and did hand brake turns hours before his car crashed, killing two 16-year-olds. But ten months passed after Dominic Arnold and Tristan Cook were killed on the A41 before their friend Sam Dooley told police he travelled in the VW Polo on December 9 last year. He told Chester Crown Court on Thursday he was afraid his parents would be angry with him because they banned him from going in friends’ cars. Barristers suspect he wanted to protect his friend Duncan McCann, who was driving without a licence that night. Crash victim Tristan Cook was with Sam
22 Chaser Court, Greyhound Park, Chester
DAY THREE - WEDNESDAY
oncoming cars flash their headlights. He said: “I thought to myself I guarantee it is one of those cars that has been in an accident, and I was right.” Passengers in Ferguson’s VW Golf described watching in horror as Wood’s car lost control. Wesley Hardy, of Huntington, who was in a middle rear seat, told the court on Wednesday afternoon: “The car went completely out of control and did a 180 so the headlights shone through our windows, then hit the kerb and went up into the hedge. When it was in the air it began to barrel-roll and hit the tree.” Front-seat passenger Daniel Wilson said the three boys were concerned to see Wood’s rear wheels slide on a bend immediately before the crash bend. Mr Wilson said Ferguson reacted to the sight by saying: “Woody’s driving like a sicko.” Wood’s counsel are expected to deny the car lost control on the first bend, and say the crash was a tragic accident beyond Wood’s control. Citroen Saxo driver Chris Laidler said he had asked Robert Shacklady to tell Michael Wood to ‘calm down’ after what he thought was a dangerous overtake near a bend on the way to Broxton. But he admitted taking part in handbrake turns and wheel spins – and said he has never been interviewed by the police for the charges faced by Matthew Ferguson.
“But because you have been wracked with guilt of not coming forward earlier you have completely exaggerated the nature of Michael Wood’s driving haven’t you?” Mr Dooley replied: “No. Absolutely not.” Duncan McCann told the court he had performed stunts on Sainsbury’s and Broxton car parks, but he has not been interviewed by police for the same charges as Matthew Ferguson. Mr McCann has been interviewed by police for not disclosing he did not have a licence at the time of the crash. On Thursday the court also heard evidence from car passengers Emma Cunningham and Amy Wooley who say they saw Michael Wood run through a red traffic light in Boughton.
A NATIONAL go-karting champion was the only teenage driver who did not perform stunts in his car on December 9 last year, a court heard. Tony Bentley-Roberts, 18, of Ledsham, who was then in the upper sixth form at Christleton High School, drove a Land Rover Freelander. He said he did not see Ferguson doing stunts at Sainsbury’s. Mr Bentley-Roberts said the convoy drove off at high speed to Broxton car park, so he soon lost them and had to ask for directions. Mr Bentley-Roberts and Chris Laidler were the first cars to leave the car park at just before midnight and expected Wood and Ferguson to follow. Mr Bentley-Roberts said: “I kept checking my mirrors expecting to see them catch up. Eventually we decided to turn back and found the scene of the collision.” Irish HGV driver Laurence Dowling said Broxton car park turned into ‘the Wild West’ as the teenagers did handbrake turns and ‘hunted’ drivers they believed to be doggers by blocking their path and shouting obscenities. He wrote down their registration details after seeing Matthew Ferguson reverse his VW Golf ‘aggressively’ towards his HGV as he tried to turn around. Minutes after he left the picnic area at 12.07am he saw
HU R A F RY I V AI T T I ! L A N L CH AB G D S T L R IS E B ATE FEW T E S M AS FOR E
roundabout again. I felt relieved when the journey was over.” Mr Dooley then went in Mr McCann’s car to Broxton car park, where he says teens donned Balaclavas and turned off headlights to scare ‘doggers’. The pairs left before the other cars and did not know about the crash until the next day. Wood’s defence barrister, Mark LeBrocq, asked Mr Dooley why he hadn’t come forward earlier. He said: “When I look back at it I know it was a stupid thing to do. I was just worried what would happen if I came forward.” He denied wanting to protect Mr McCann. Mr LeBrocq said: “Six weeks ago, 10 months on, your conscience got the better of you and you made a statement to the police.
Dooley in Wood’s VW Golf driving from a party in Hamilton Street, Hoole, to Sainsbury’s car park at about 10pm. On Thursday Mr Dooley said: “ He was talking about his new car and said it had a great hand brake, then said ‘Watch this’ and pulled a hand brake turn to get off the Bars roundabout to Boughton. “Tristan [Cook] was laughing but I think it was more a nervous laugh and he was just going along with it. “Wood accelerated off through Boughton at 60-70mph then towards the Sainsbury’s roundabout which he hit at speed. “I felt a juddering from the tyres losing grip but he managed to control it and went down towards Caldy Valley, where he did a hand brake turn around the mini
Teenage drivers in the dock over night of A41 tragedies
TRIAL is examining events leading up to the crash that killed 16-year olds Dominic Wood and Tristan Cook.
Michael James Wood, of Woodlands Drive, Chester, admitted dangerous driving on Sainsbury’s and Broxton car parks but denies causing by death by dangerous driving on the A41 in his VW Polo. Matthew George Ferguson, of Little Heath Road, Christleton, also 18, was driving a VW Golf and denies dangerous driving on the Focus car park, Tarvin Road, at Broxton car park and on the A41. A jury at Chester Crown Court this week heard a group of sixth-formers held a party in Hamilton Street, Hoole on Saturday, December 9, but it was broken up by police at 9.30pm. Sixteen teenagers in five cars then met in Sainsbury’s car park, Boughton
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