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Death crash accused claims her windscreen 'went white'

Charlie Willbourne, in front, arrives at court
Charlie Willbourne, in front, arrives at court

A heavily-pregnant woman told a jury today her car windscreen "went white" at the moment she fatally collided with a cyclist.

Charlie Willbourne sobbed as she recalled how the glare from the sun suddenly changed as she drove up Wrotham Hill.

The 21-year-old said she did not know what had happened until she looked in her mirror and saw "clothes down the road".

"That's when I knew I had hit somebody," she tearfully explained. "I immediately stopped, put my hazard lights on and got out of the car and ran to him."

Willbourne, of Hever Avenue, West Kingsdown, is alleged to have caused the death of 58-year-old Peter Stubbs by careless driving on the A20 London Road on May 4 last year.

Father-of-two Mr Stubbs was struck by Willbourne's Hyundai i20 just before 8pm. He was thrown over the car before landing in the road.

The force of the impact caused his bike to lose its front wheel and the rear wheel was buckled.

Described as an experienced cyclist, Mr Stubbs was wearing a high visibility vest and was on his way home to St Mary's Way in Longfield.

"i thought i was doing the right thing” – charlie willbourne

The court heard Willbourne had left a friend's house in Malling and was on her way to see another friend in Dartford.

She had had a glass of wine about 90 minutes before her journey and told the court she did not feel it impaired her judgement.

Willbourne said she had to pull down her sun visor as she started the climb up the hill.

She estimated her speed as 50mph and said she had not seen any cyclists.

Describing visibility as poor and agreeing that the sun was a hazard, she told the jury how she looked at the broken white lines in the middle of the two uphill lanes as a guide.

Willbourne added that the light became "sunnier" and she slowed down to between 40 and 45mph.

Asked when she was first aware of Mr Stubbs she replied: "When the collision happened.

"I was travelling up the hill when all of a sudden my whole screen went white.

"That's when the collision happened. It all happened in a second."

Willbourne later told police at the scene that she was driving at 60mph. "I didn't know whether I was coming or going at the time," she explained to the jury.

"I just wanted to know what was happening with the man."

During cross-examination Willbourne maintained that the glare from the sun had become brighter when it appeared through gaps in the trees at the side of the road.

When prosecutor Anthony Prosser suggested that the conditions were such that "a careful and competent driver would have gone much slower", Willbourne denied driving too fast.

"I thought I was doing the right thing," she replied.

The trial is expected to end tomorrow.

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