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Driver mowed down reveller in a moment of total madness'

PUBLISHED: 16:30 29 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:48 16 August 2010

IN THE DOCK: Andrew Curtis, 49, charged with the murder of Naomi Benjamin, 34.

IN THE DOCK: Andrew Curtis, 49, charged with the murder of Naomi Benjamin, 34.

A PRISON van driver ran over and killed a woman in a moment of complete madness after she started dancing in the street, a court heard.  Andrew Curtis, 49, of The Ridge, Orpington, edged forward into Naomi Benjamin, 34, until she slipped and fell under

A PRISON van driver ran over and killed a woman in "a moment of complete madness" after she started dancing in the street, a court heard.

Andrew Curtis, 49, of The Ridge, Orpington, edged forward into Naomi Benjamin, 34, until she slipped and fell under the wheels of the vehicle on April 22 last year.

He then drove over her body, twisting her head until her neck was broken and dragging her 10 metres along the road, jurors were told at his murder trial at the Old Bailey this week.

Horrified witnesses surrounded the driver and beat on the sides of the van in anger after the incident in Brixton.

Bystander Susan Fraser, giving evidence on Tuesday, said: "She was in front of the prison van dancing, waving [her] arms around and shouting. There was a lot of action going on.

"The prison van eventually moved forwards and Naomi moved backwards. The van moved forwards again and almost touched her. She was obstructing the vehicle, she was shouting but I couldn't understand any words."

She then jumped up and pulled the passenger windscreen wiper down before tumbling to the floor.

Ms Fraser added: "That was when the prison van escalated. She fell under the wheel and the van continued moving up the hill and she was underneath it. I was in shock.

"I remained there until she was run over and I made my way towards the van.

"There was an immediate rush of people towards the van, screaming and shouting at the van to stop.

"It was very nasty. Things got a bit nasty."

Curtis, who had worked for Serco for six years, was transporting prisoners from a court in Westminster to Brixton prison during rush hour.

He had stopped at the traffic lights outside the KFC in the middle of the three-lane carriageway heading southbound on Brixton Road.

Prosecutor Simon Denison said: "She was killed suddenly and utterly needlessly by this defendant in a moment of complete madness.

"She slipped and fell in front of the centre of the van. You may think he must have realised what had happened but quite incredibly he continued to drive the van forward and he went over her."

The victim was still alive when the first paramedic arrived but by the time she could be moved from under the vehicle she was dead.

Describing Ms Benjamin, Mr Denison said: "She was well known in the community, a local character. She was often dressed in brightly coloured clothes. She was outgoing and a loud person. Unfortunately she was often drunk."

The trial continues.

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