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Man accused of killing woman in tractor crash had taken cocaine

Henry Bett entering court yesterday
Henry Bett entering court yesterday

The son of a police and crime commissioner (PCC) accused of killing a woman in a road crash may have been influenced by cocaine at the time, a court has heard.

Henry Bett is the son of farmer Stephen Bett, the former Tory chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, who now serves as the independent PCC for the county.

The 26-year-old, of Hall Lane, Thornham, Norfolk, denies causing death by dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Simon Wilshere told jurors the head-on collision between Bett's tractor and a Fiat people carrier driven by Rebecca Brown, 43, had happened just after 3pm on December 4 2013. Mrs Brown's car was crushed and she died shortly after.

He said there was evidence Bett was speeding and had failed to see the car, despite there being 100 metres of clear visibility on the West Acre Road near Mrs Brown's home village of Castle Acre.

He added: "Blood samples taken four hours after the collision found the defendant had ingested cocaine some 12 to 24 hours before.

"There is nothing to say he had ingested cocaine in the hours immediately before the collision but the after effects of cocaine use can include a lack of concentration and a slowing of reactions which we say may have contributed to this collision."

The court heard Bett was returning from working on a local farm and was driving a green Fendt tractor in the middle of the road. Mrs Brown was taking her son, Thomas, to a hospital appointment.

Mr Wilshere said: "Mrs Brown took action to give the tractor space to pass safely, pulling onto the verge.

"The defendant appears not to have seen her car, even though there was 100 metres of visibility.

"He drove into the Fiat and continued for 45 metres down the road before coming to a halt."

The driver's side of the Fiat was completely crushed in the crash.

Mr Wilshere told the jury at Peterborough Crown Court, sitting in Huntingdon, that one witness told police he had thought "what the hell is he doing" after seeing Bett driving in the middle of the road shortly before the incident.

The first driver to arrive at the scene was Anthony Adams. Bett flagged him down and appeared to be in a distressed state, jurors heard. Mr Adams then saw the Fiat in a hedgerow.

Bett told him: "There was nothing I could do. I was as far over as I could be.

"She came round the corner, straight into me and took my front wheel off."

He later told officers he was "full on the brake" when the collision happened, the court heard.

Mrs Brown's son attempted to resuscitate his mother and several other motorists stopped to help. But nothing could be done to save her and she was pronounced dead at 3.37pm.