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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Driver Liam Davis claims Brenchley and Matfield councillor Ronald Berry driving on wrong side of Paddock Wood road before crash

10 March 2014
by Julia Roberts
A motorist accused of killing a parish councillor after allegedly losing control of his vehicle while almost twice the legal drink-drive limit claimed the other driver was on the wrong side of the road, a court heard.
 
Liam Davis, 26, was at the wheel of a Land Rover Freelander when he collided head-on with long-serving Brenchley and Matfield councillor Ronald Berry, who was driving a Peugeot 406.
 
A jury at Maidstone Crown Court heard the vehicles were travelling in opposite directions along Queen Street in Paddock Wood and both ended up in ditches on either side of the country lane.
 
Long-serving councillor Ronald Berry was killed in a crash in Queen Street, Paddock Wood

Long-serving councillor Ronald Berry was killed in a crash in Queen Street, Paddock Wood

 
The fatal smash occurred at 6.45pm on December 3, 2012.
 
Davis, of Cleavesland, Laddingford, Maidstone, was on his way home from The Star pub in nearby Matfield, where he told police he had had two pints of beer.
 
He failed a roadside breath test and later gave a reading at a police station of 61 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
 
Widower Mr Berry, who was 73 and owned Burnbright Fuels, suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.
 
The court was told that Davis was interviewed by police the day after the accident and gave a prepared statement through his solicitor.
 
He stated: "I was driving along Queen Street on my way home. It was dark and I would describe the road condition as damp.
 
"I approached the bend and that was when I saw the other vehicle coming towards me on the other side of the road. Immediately our cars collided and both vehicles ended up in ditches."
 
Davis added that he freed himself from his Land Rover before going to try and help Mr Berry.
 
Ronald Berry owned Lucks Lake in Paddock Wood

Ronald Berry owned Lucks Lake in Paddock Wood

 
He continued: "I was not speeding and I would not describe my manner of driving as careless.
 
"I don't know why the other vehicle was driving on the other side of the road."
 
Davis was interviewed twice more about the fatal collision but chose not to answer questions.
 
He denies causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit.
 
Mr Berry had to be freed by emergency crews through the boot of his car.
 
The court heard he was not breathing and was unresponsive. He was laid on tarpaulin in the road and treated but pronounced dead at the scene.
 
A post mortem examination revealed that traces of tramadol, a painkiller prescribed to Mr Berry since September 2010 for arthritis, were of a high enough level to cause a "toxic effect".
 
Prosecutor Martin Yale said the most likely cause of the high level in the grandfather's blood was taking a greater amount than the prescribed dosage or chewing the tablets rather than swallowing.
 
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

 
He added, however, that while there were a wide range of potential adverse reactions, including dizziness, drowsiness or seizures, they were less likely if a user had a high tolerance for the drugs.
 
The court heard Mr Berry also suffered from cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens, in both eyes.
 
Neither the Land Rover nor the Peugeot had mechanical defects which could have contributed to the collision.
 
At the start of the trial, the jury was told the prosecution allege that Davis lost control while over the drink-drive limit and before the impact, and then "slewed" across the road to collide with Mr Berry.
 
The trial continues.

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