Brownies have narrow escape as car crashes into tree

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A GROUP of Brownies in church grounds escaped “serious injury or even death” when a “flying car” smashed into a tree just metres away, a court was told.

The 11 girls were in the car park of Nelson Independent Methodist Church on Netherfield Road, Nelson, with several adults when a Vauxhall Vectra crashed on the other side of the church wall. A leader with them told police how they heard no sound of braking, but just a loud bang. The Brownies, who had been on a chocolate hunt, had been very upset by the mid-afternoon incident last November 17th.

Pennine magistrates heard how at the wheel of the vehicle had been Haroon Hussain, who had passed his driving test just five-and-a-half weeks before after 31 lessons. He then ran off, but was found nearby on Bentley Street and told police: “Just handcuff me. I know you are here to arrest me. It was me driving the car. My right arm hurts.” He claimed he had been doing about 30mph at the time of the crash.

The defendant, because he had held a full driving licence for less than two years, will now have to take his test again, after he was given nine points on his licence. Hussain (18), of Beaufort Street, Nelson, also received a community order with a two-month curfew between 7pm and 6am, seven days a week and must pay £250 compensation. He had admitted driving without due care and attention, failing to stop after an accident and driving with no insurance.

Miss Parveen Akhtar (prosecuting) said a witness, bus driver Patrick McLoughlin, told police that just before 3pm, he had been going towards Netherfield Road from Nelson Bus Station when a Vectra came “flying round the bend” at high speed. He thought it was going to crash. The vehicle went onto the wrong side of the road and nearly hit a parked van. The car then swerved back onto the correct side of the road, seemed to lose control, “literally flew over the kerb”, travelled along a pedestrian area, turned 180 degrees, struck a tree on a grassed area and came to rest next to it. The prosecutor said Mr McLoughlin had been a driver for 25 years. She continued: “He honestly believes that had the tree not been there, the car would have continued to travel at speed over the church wall into the church grounds.”

The Brownie leader also “ fully believed” had the tree not been there, the vehicle would have gone over the wall into the car park and crashed into her group, “causing serious injury or even death.”

Miss Akhtar said Hussain, who told police he was “absolutely gobsmacked” by what happened, said he had had 31 driving lessons before passing his test. The defendant, who had no previous instructions, was not insured to drive the car.

Mr John Rusius, for Hussain, said he was not an experienced driver. He had panicked after the accident and then left the scene.

Mr Rusius continued: “As soon as police found him he says: ‘Yes, I was the driver.’He co-operated with the police. He says he panicked, went to try and get his head clear and was going to go into the police station. He’s very sorry for what happened.”