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Woman driver denies racing before Amy death crash
THE woman whose former boyfriend’s car hit and killed Amy Hofmeister denied she was playing a “game of cat and mouse” at the time.
Leanne Burnell was driving her Ford Focus which was overtaken by Leonard Jones moments before his Vauxhall Vectra ploughed into Amy on Blackbrook Way, Taunton, Taunton Crown Court heard.
On the third day of her trial for causing death by dangerous driving, Miss Burnell said she had gone to the Harvester pub to tell Jones he had missed his doctor’s appointment.
She later left in her car, with Jones following in his Vectra with a friend in the front passenger seat.
Miss Burnell told the court she drove towards the M5 roundabout, detoured through the Murco garage, went up the Blackbrook bus lane and turned into Blackbrook Way.
Miss Burnell, who said her relationship with Jones ended that night, added: “I went up the bus lane because I didn’t have any petrol and I was worried about breaking down on the dual carriageway.”
She said Jones was speeding, but her Focus was “chugging” as it was low on fuel and could not exceed 30mph.
Recalling the accident, Miss Burnell said: “It all happened so fast.
“He was overtaking me. I’d slowed right down to let him get in front because of a vehicle coming on facing us.
“He got back in front of me, which is when the accident happened where he hit the kerb.
“His car rolled. I panicked, I was in shock. I pulled up my car and put my hazards on.
“I ran to the Vectra. I couldn’t see nothing. I ran for help.”
When she returned, Jones and his friend were standing beside the Vectra, which was on its roof on the roundabout at the junction with Lisieux Way.
Miss Burnell denied she told a policeman she had been in the back of the Vectra with Jones and that the driver was one of his friends who had fled.
She said she was not racing the Vectra and said Jones and Grant were “acting like idiots”, speeding up behind her and then slowing down.
She admitted originally lying about her route because she was afraid of getting into trouble for using the bus lane.
THE car driven by a woman accused of causing the death of Amy Hofmeister by dangerous driving was probably doing an average of 65mph at one stage, Taunton Crown Court heard this afternoon.
Police accident investigator PC Andrew Gigg said his calculations, based on CCTV images, showed Leanne Burnell was driving her Ford Focus at between 56mph and 77mph.
Miss Burnell's defence disputed the claims during the second day of her trial.
The jury was shown CCTV images of Miss Burnell's car after it left the Harvester pub on its way to Blackbrook Way, Taunton, before the accident.
Her boyfriend Leonard 'Nitty' Jones was at the wheel of a Vauxhall Vectra doing an average of 81mph over the same stretch of road.
Jones has already pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving - the court earlier heard that his car ploughed into Amy and a friend as they were cycling along Blackbrook Way.
Miss Burnell is expected to give evidence to the court tomorrow morning.
AMY Hofmeister's friend has described the moment the teenage girl died after being hit by a speeding car.
Lucy Hawkins was cycling with Amy along Blackbrook Way, just past the Blackbrook Pavilion going towards the roundabout at the end of Lisieux Way, Taunton Crown Court heard this morning.
Lucy, in a statement read to the court, said: "I looked back over my right shoulder and there was a car about two metres behind on its side.
"I heard a loud noise before feeling a heavy impact on my hip.
"I came off my cycle and came to rest in the hedge.
"My first thought was for Amy and I sat up and looked around.
"I could see Amy lying on her back in the same hedge about two metres further on with her cycle next to her.
"She was completely still and not moving and I screamed at her, but got no response.
"I could see a car lying on its side or its roof in the grassed area on the centre of the roundabout."
Lucy's statement was read on the second day of the trial of Leanne Burnell, of Bishop's Hull, who denies causing Amy's death by dangerous driving.
Leonard 'Nitty' Jones has already admitted causing Amy's death by dangerous driving.
A number of witnesses have told the jury that they saw Jones and Burnell racing as they drove separate cars along Blackbrook Way before the accident on June 15 last year.
The trial continues after lunch today.
A BISHOP'S Hull woman accused of causing a 13-year-old girl's death by dangerous driving was racing her boyfriend, Taunton Crown Court heard this afternoon.
Leanne Burnell, 20, of Bishop's Hull, denies the charge relating to the death of Amy Hofmeister on June 15 last year.
But at the start of her trial today, William Hunter, prosecuting, said Miss Burnell "used her car as a toy and used the road as a playground".
Her boyfriend, Leonard 'Nitty' Jones, 42, of Mulberry Close, Taunton, has already admitted causing Amy's death by dangerous driving.
Jones was driving his Vauxhall Vectra at 81mph, while Miss Burnell reached 65mph in her Ford Focus before the former's car ploughed into Amy and a friend, who were on their bikes on the cycle path in Blackbrook Way, the court was told.
Larry Grant, a passenger in Jones's car, told how Jones ignored his pleas to slow down before he overtook Miss Burnell and lost control moments before the accident.
The trial continues tomorrow.