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Death crash driver accused of 'texting seconds before fatal collision'

Mohammed Salman Patel
Mohammed Salman Patel

A driver was texting his girlfriend just seconds before his car ploughed into three young women, killing two of them, a court heard.

Witnesses said Mohammed Salman Patel, who was seen with his mobile phone in his hand at the wheel, did not brake or swerve to avoid the collision on Brockholes Brow, Preston in April 2016.

Rachel Murphy, 23 and Shelby Maher, 17, both from Preston died from catastrophic injuries. Megan Blakey, who was 15 at the time, was injured and spent a week in hospital. Two boys who crossed the road just in front of the three escaped unhurt.

Patel, 27, told police later he didn’t see the group in the road as he drove up the hill towards Preston. But Francis McEntee, prosecuting, told a jury at the city’s crown court: “The reason, we say, he didn’t see three people in broad daylight, was he was more interested in his mobile phone than the road ahead.”

Patel, of Carham Road, Blackburn, denies two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. He has admitted a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Mr McEntee said the defendant “ploughed his BMW into three young women as they crossed the road.” He went on: “He took no avoiding action because, as he was to admit to police, he simply didn’t see them, even at the point of collision.”

The two women who died were thrown “a considerable distance” by the impact. Patel’s car travelled at least 60-metres before coming to a halt.

Rachel died at the scene and Shelby some time later in hospital. Megan was able to hobble to the sided of the road where she was treated by paramedics.

The prosecution claim Patel’s mobile phone records revealed he had been texting his girlfriend as he approached Brockholes Brow.

His last text was just 42 seconds before he rang 999 to report the collision.

Mr McEntee told the jury: “What the prosecution invite you to consider is that within 42 seconds of sending a text message to his girlfriend, the defendant had killed two young woman with his car.

“We don’t say he was sending a text message at the time of the collision.

“But the last message he sent was a question and we maintain that the only answer to why he didn’t see anyone in the road was he was more interested in finding out what the answer was to his question.”

The trial, held before Judge Robert Altham, is expected to last a week.

At the start of the trial, which is expected to last at least a week, Judge Robert Altham told the jury: “You are bound to have profound sadness at the loss of life, that’s expected and completely normal and natural.

But what you must not do is let that sympathy and sadness cloud your judgement in this.

“The question of fact is whether or not the defendant’s driving was dangerous.”