Taxi driver who killed student in car accident ‘thought he was a bin bag’

A taxi driver who ran over a student after mistaking him for a “bin bag” lying in the road would have swerved had he known it was a body, a court heard.

Frank Norman, 71, said he didn’t see Robert Stephenson lying in the middle of the road after the third-year student had embarked on a night of heavy drinking. 

Norman said by the time he saw the 21-year-old, it was too late as his vehicle struck the undergraduate on 26 March.

York Crown Court heard Norman was concerned with his four passengers eating in the back of his cab and what that might do to his vehicle.

But before striking Mr Stephenson, he claimed he always had his attention on the road ahead of him as he drove his fare through the Micklegate area of York.

In cross-examination, Norman claimed he had been in his vehicle resting or driving for eight hours before the collision around 2.35am.

He also claimed he had often run over bin bags, which invariably in his experience contained cardboard or paper.

Another taxi driver, who stopped by Mr Stephenson’s body shortly before Norman arrived, said he had encountered bin bags containing glass while driving.

Defence collision expert John Griffin claimed Norman’s headlights illuminated Mr Stephenson’s body too late for Norman to take evasive action.

He agreed with prosecution barrister Simon Waley that CCTV footage of the scene showed the second taxi driver braking as he came into view.

The second taxi driver told the jury when he first saw the student, he believed it was a bin bag, but as he drew nearer, he realised it was a person.

Mr Griffin alleged street lighting and Mr Stephenson’s position made it easier for the second taxi driver to see him compared to Norman.

Norman, of York, denies causing Mr Stephenson’s death by careless driving.

The trial continues.



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