‘I was shocked when car driver pulled out’

Anthony Noble

Anthony Noble

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A FIREFIGHTER told a court he was stunned when a car pulled out in front of a fire engine on an emergency call-out.

Tim Burgess was giving evidence on behalf of his colleague Anthony Noble who is on trial for careless driving at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court. He denies the charge.

The 45-year-old was driving at more than 50mph with sirens on and lights flashing in Barncroft Way, Leigh Park, on April 5, last year, when the collision occurred.

William Nobbs was driving a Kia Picanto and turned right across the path of the 15-ton fire engine into his driveway.

The firefighters spent more than an hour trying to release him from his car, which had flipped and crashed into a tree. He was taken to hospital and released later that day.

Yesterday in court Mr Burgess explained that his role is to sit alongside the driver of the vehicle, point out hazards and make the crew aware of their duties when they arrive at the emergency call.

He said: ‘I thought that maybe the vehicle was perhaps trying to creep up next to the parked cars but we still had enough room to go by him.’

He went on, ‘At the point when the car began to move out and around the other parked cars I said to Tony, “What the hell is he doing?”.

‘It’s not something you would expect if you have got blue lights, two tones, and you believe that that person has seen you.’

Defence barrister Jack Walsh asked Mr Burgess if he had concerns over Noble’s driving, to which he replied: ‘No concerns at all.’

Mr Walsh read out two statements from motorists who saw the accident. Andrew Gear was in a Ford Focus on the opposite side of the road when the accident happened.

He said: ‘The silver car was about 20 to 25 yards in front of me when the driver’s side indicator began flashing and the car suddenly turned right across the path of the fire engine.’

Martin Barnes was behind the Ford Focus.

He said: ‘As the fire truck was passing down the centre of the road I saw the silver car initially pull over to the left side of the road. The silver car was coming towards me. But, within the blink of an eye, it suddenly turned into the path of the fire truck as though it was going to park on the opposite side of the road.’

An internal report by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has exonerated Noble of any blame.

The prosecution claims Noble should have been going slower and should have anticipated that Mr Nobbs was going to make a manoeuvre, whether or not it was safe to do so.

The case has been adjourned until February 24 for magistrates to consider their verdict.

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