Driver blamed sneeze after ploughing into teen girl

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

A driver who mounted the pavement and struck a teenage girl, says the accident happened because he sneezed at the wheel.

Magistrates heard that David Marsh initially stopped at the scene, then panicked and fled when a bystander confronted him and accused him of being drunk.

Marsh appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court to plead guilty to charges of driving without due car and attention and failing to stop after a road accident.

The incident occurred on February 22 when the 33-year-old of Linden Avenue, Orrell, was driving along Orrell Road, Orrell.

As he drove past The Mount pub his Renault Kangoo left the road and collided with a young girl.

Her age was not revealed in police reports, but Marsh claimed to have been told she was 15 years old.

She was knocked to the floor and suffered a cut to the back of her head.

A statement from an eyewitness was read to the court, in which a woman claimed to have briefly followed Marsh’s work van after concerns over his driving.

She reported seeing him “all over the road” before striking the girl.

After he stopped his vehicle and got out to check on the girl, the concerned witness confronted him, asking “what are you playing at?” before she called 999.

She also claimed that Marsh seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.

It was at this point that Marsh was reported to have got back in his vehicle and driven away from the scene.

Defending Marsh, duty solicitor Martin Jones said that the allegation of drink-driving was one he “steadfastly refuted.”

Mr Jones told the court that Marsh had been in a pub earlier that day, but had no money on him, and left without consuming any alcohol. He was driving to get cash when the collision occurred.

When he sneezed twice in quick succession, Marsh lost momentary control of the car and crashed.

He stopped at the scene, but when the witness began swearing at him, he panicked and drove away.

He later handed himself in to a nearby police station.

Marsh was sentenced to 140 hours of unpaid work, and his license was endorsed with 10 penalty points.

He must also pay £85 in court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.