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Teen yanked wheel' before car death crash

PUBLISHED: 16:13 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 12 August 2010

A17-YEAR-OLD girl was flirting with a waiter moments before causing the accident that killed him, a court heard. The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sitting on the lap of 20-year-old Richard Rutter in the passenger seat of a Mini Cooper

A17-YEAR-OLD girl was flirting with a waiter moments before causing the accident that killed him, a court heard.

The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sitting on the lap of 20-year-old Richard Rutter in the passenger seat of a Mini Cooper being driven by Lee Waite, 21, from Bromley Common, the Old Bailey heard on Monday.

The girl, who denies manslaughter, allegedly "yanked" the steering-wheel of the car, which was carrying seven people, causing the crash and the almost instantaneous death of Mr Waite.

Jurors heard how the four girls and three boys were crammed into the car when it hit a tree and wall in Southborough Lane, Bromley, on February 10 last year.

Prosecuting Sarah Whitehouse said: "It was a bright clear dry night. There was no frost and no ice.

"The car suddenly swerved off the road and hit a tree on the right hand side of the car. Then it spun through a wall and ended up facing the way it had come.

"Lee Waite was still conscious at the time of the crash but he died soon after."

The group had been drinking in The Chequers pub, in Southborough Lane before going back to one of the girl's houses where they watched some DVDs. Mr Waite then drove them to a garage to get some cigarettes and more alcohol.

The car crashed on the way back at a speed somewhere between 50 and 70 miles per hour, the court heard.

The impact was so great that it caused the engine to fall out of the vehicle, jurors were told.

As Mr Rutter told the court that the defendant had pulled the steering wheel causing the accident she sobbed and shook her head as she sat in the dock.

He said: "She pulled it right down. I can't remember nothing after that. I heard Lee shouting. We both shouted. We said 'what the f***'".

"George Killick was there when I woke up in hospital. I told him straight away. I said that girl who was on my lap pulled the steering wheel - I didn't really know her name then."

But Christopher Whitehouse, defending, accused the 20-year-old of giving a false name to police and of drinking far more than he had told the court.

He said: "I suggest you're being a bit coy - not telling us the whole story about how much you had to drink. You say that you have a clear recollection of the key event but you were drunk. You were in the pub from 8 or 9pm and say you only had two or three pints. You must be a very moderate drinker."

Mr Whitehouse added: "Lee was drinking at the house and giving some to the defendant. There was some flirtation."

Mr Whitehouse went on to reason that she was sat on Mr Rutter's lap because Mr Waite "wanted her to sit closer to him."

He claims the girl moved her arm towards the steering wheel to gesticulate the direction they should be driving.

He added: "She was pointing. She had her right hand extended out and that's what happened immediately before the crash."

The trial continues.

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