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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Matthew Cooper, PA & Patrick Edrich

Man accused of murdering woman with car had shots and lines of cocaine, court hears

A driver accused of mowing down a young woman told the jury he had 10 double shots and numerous lines of cocaine before "a moment of stupidity".

Stephen McHugh, originally from Fazakerley but now living in Oswestry, told Stafford Crown Court he was trying to frighten a group of people when he mounted a footpath outside and takeaway and killed 22-year-old Liverpool John Moores student Rebecca Steer. A trial has been told McHugh denies murder but admits the manslaughter of Ms Steer, an innocent bystander who was dragged under his car in the centre of Oswestry, Shropshire.

McHugh has admitted assault causing injury to Kyle Roberts, who was also hit by his car, but denies attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent. Giving evidence on the fifth day of his trial McHugh, of Artillery Road, Park Hall, told a jury of six men and six women that he had "next to none" driving experience, having never had a driving lesson or a driving licence.

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After telling the court he had traded in a manual Volkswagen Passat for the automatic Volvo eight days before Ms Steer’s death, McHugh listed drink and drugs he had consumed at pubs, a friend’s flat and a nightclub in the proceeding hours. During his evidence, McHugh said he had drunk around six beers, taken up to seven lines of cocaine, as well as consuming Disaronno and vodka.

Prosecutors allege McHugh used his Volvo "as a weapon" to deliberately drive into a group of people in Willow Street at about 2.45am on October 9 last year.

Alleging McHugh stopped in the road and "exchanged words" with a group of people, Kevin Hegarty KC, prosecuting, told the court: "At that moment Rebecca Steer was crossing Willow Street. All of a sudden, as she was crossing, the Volvo shot backwards. It narrowly missed her."

Jurors were told Ms Steer managed to get out of the way of the car and made her way onto the opposite pavement. Mr Hegarty added: "At that moment Mr McHugh turned the steering wheel in the direction of the people on the pavement and then he drove on to the pavement towards that group of people.

"The driver’s side of the car went on to the kerb, on to the footpath, and he proceeded to drive through the group. We say he used his car as a weapon – he used the power and the weight of the car to strike the group."

McHugh, 28, told the court on Tuesday he was not angry with the group and had at first reversed to get alongside them to pick up a friend. He said: "I am not an angry person. When I am drunk I am a happy drunk. I made a bit of a t** of myself trying to get parallel with them. I was embarrassed more than anything."

After being asked by defence counsel Paul Hynes KC to explain what was in his mind when he decided to drive forwards, McHugh said: "To try to get close to the kerb without going on the frighten the group. I didn't really think about it. It was a moment of stupidity.

"I just wanted to get out of there. I didn't think I was going to make it on the kerb. It all went horribly wrong didn't it. I panicked, I carried on driving. Stupidity, I hold my hands up to that all day long."

The trial continues.


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