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Man from Second Avenue, Sheerness, tells court he was not at wheel of car in New Road crash

A learner driver accused of turning a people carrier with two young children inside into a fireball had failed his theory test "eight or nine times", it has been revealed.

The vehicle had crashed through railings in Sheerness before catching alight leaving one child with a serious leg injury.

But Michael Chapman has told a jury he was not at the wheel of his lover's seven-seater Vauxhall in September last year.

The site of the crash in New Road, Sheerness (14963096)
The site of the crash in New Road, Sheerness (14963096)

He was asked by prosecutor Andrew Collings: "So your case is that you were not the driver?"

Chapman, 28, of Second Avenue, Sheerness, replied: "That's right."

He accused his former lover Fay Davis-Smith and her friend Amber Holland of lying when they told police he had been driving.

Mr Collings, during cross-examination, said Ms Holland had been asked to be the godmother of Chapman's own children.

Chapman told the jury: "That's right. I thought she was the perfect candidate."

The prosecution has told how two other children, aged one and two, were in the back of the burning vehicle, which had also smashed into a tree in New Road, Sheerness, and had to be snatched to safety.

"I have only ever driven once before in a car park..." Michael Chapman

He has denied causing serious injuries by driving dangerously. Chapman rejected accusations from Ms Davis-Smith and Ms Holland that, despite not passing his driving test, he had driven the vehicle on a number of occasions.

"I have only ever driven once before in a car park," he said. Chapman denied suggestions he had enjoyed "showing off by doing handbrake turns and speeding".

He said that he had failed the driver's theory test "eight or nine times" and had not passed his test.

Chapman told the jury how his girlfriend had accelerated as they were driving around Sheerness and he had asked her to slow down on two occasions before the crash.

Mr Collings' suggestion that bruises to his neck he received in the accident were consistent with him being the driver – but he claimed the bruises "may have come from flying debris".

The prosecutor had alleged that after the horror crash, Chapman's girlfriend had taken the blame because of fears over the insurance.

But she later went to a police station and claimed that Chapman had been behind the wheel after drinking up to seven cans of lager.

The jury is expected to retire later to consider its verdict.

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