Jack Bellis crash trial: Cars took part in 'rolling races' prior to fatal crash

Jack Bellis crash trial: Cars took part in 'rolling races' prior to fatal crash

Gareth Jones

Jack Bellis

Chester Crown Court

First published in News

CAR enthusiasts watched speeding vehicles race along Warrington Road in the hour before 19-year-old Jack Bellis was killed in a fatal crash, a court heard.

Gareth David Owen Jones, aged 23, from Widnes, is on trial accused of killing Mr Bellis from Padgate, who was driving a motorcycle when he crashed into Jones’ car on October 14, 2012.

He denies charges causing death by dangerous driving and an alternative count of causing death by careless or inconsiderable driving.

Witness Michael Hotsworth described two cars, which were not involved in the crash, as taking part in a ‘rolling race’ in a statement to police on January 6, 2013, prior to the collision.

Mr Hotsworth said: “Both vehicles were side by side. I would say they were racing at speeds up to 100 mph.”

Later in the statement, it was estimated that vehicles had actually been driving between 100 to 130 mph by Mr Hotsworth.

When asked if this type of racing was dangerous, Mr Hotworth replied ‘yes’ but said he did not see Jones’ car until after the collision and denied that Jones had been racing.

Witness Kirsty Payne also said she had seen cars travelling up and down the road ‘above the speed limit’ but said it had not caused her any concern.

The court heard on Monday how the incident had happened at a ‘car cruising club’, which had been organised on Facebook.

Christopher Filkins, who has known Jones since high school, said: “I have known Gaz for a while and he has always been a Sunday driver.”

Mr Filkins said he had not seen any cars driving side by side but had seen Mr Bellis riding on his bike at speeds estimated between 80 to 100 mph.

He said: “Jack was flying up and down the road. I had my back to the road but every time he came into view I would have a quick look.”

Mr Filkins also said he saw Jones indicating to the left before the collision.

Lieutenant Matthew Wright, who is Jones’ chief commanding officer in the Army, said the defendant was of ‘sound judgement at all times’ and expected him to be promoted to the next rank in the next 12 months.

Jones, who is a driver in the army after joining in September 2007, always set a good example to his comrades, the court heard.

“He was a committed soldier,” said Lieutenant Wright.

Jones has pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and an alternative count of causing death by careless or inconsiderable driving.

The defence closed their case today, Friday. The trial will continue on Monday with the jury expected to retire to decide a verdict later that day.

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