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Home Maidstone News Article
A motorist accused of killing a parish councillor after allegedly losing control of his vehicle and veering into his path while almost twice the legal drink-drive limit has gone on trial.
Long-serving Brenchley and Matfield councillor Ronald Berry died in the head-on crash between his Peugeot 406 and a Land Rover Freelander being driven by Liam Davis.
Mr Berry and 26-year-old Davis were travelling in opposite directions along Queen Street in Paddock Wood at 6.45pm on December 3, 2012 when the fatal smash happened.
Both vehicles ended up in ditches on opposite sides of the country lane. Paramedics were at first unable to release the 73-year-old businessman from his vehicle.
Maidstone Crown Court heard he was eventually freed by emergency crews and laid on a sheet at the rear of the vehicle but died at the scene from multiple injuries.
"The defendant had lost control of his Land Rover before the impact and was beginning to slew across the road to the right and collided with Mr Berry's car..." - prosecutor Martin Yale
Davis, of Cleavesland, Laddingford, Maidstone, was said to have told other motorists who stopped to help, as well as police officers at the scene, that Mr Berry had been in the middle of the road.
Davis added he swerved, but the vehicles hit each other.
However, a jury at Maidstone Crown Court was told it is alleged by the prosecution Davis lost control of his car while over the drink-drive limit and before the impact.
Davis, who told police he had had two pints at The Star pub in nearby Matfield before heading home, failed a roadside breath test.
He later gave a reading at the police station of 61 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.
Prosecutor Martin Yale said: "It is the Crown's case the defendant had lost control of his Land Rover before the impact and was beginning to slew across the road to the right and collided with Mr Berry's car."
Davis, who is living at a bail address in Matfield, denies causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit.
When interviewed by police, he gave a prepared statement in which he maintained Mr Berry had been driving on the wrong side of the road.
Davis said he was not speeding nor driving carelessly.
The crash happened between the Elm Tree pub and Commercial Motor Services.
Widower Mr Berry, who owned Burnbright Fuels in Lucks Lane and Lucks Lake, was driving towards Brenchley, while Davis was travelling in the opposite direction towards Laddingford.
It was dark but the weather was dry, with no rain, snow or ice.
Mr Yale said the part of the road where the collision occurred was "relatively narrow", but there was sufficient room for two vehicles to pass.
"As the vehicles were about to pass, the defendant began to lose control, crossed onto the other side of the road and collided with the car of Mr Berry," he added.
After the collision, Davis was said to have told another motorist Mr Berry was in the middle of the road and that there was "nowhere" for him to go.
And, continued the prosecutor, having told another driver he had had a couple of beers, Davis added "words to the effect of that they were going to pin it on him".
Mr Berry, who was a father-of-two with three grandchildren, established Brenchley Youth Club in the 1960s. He was also a former secretary and treasurer of Horsmonden Social Club.
The trial continues.
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