Hotelier acquitted as trial into fatal collision collapses

20 September 2023 by
Hotelier acquitted as trial into fatal collision collapses

The trial of a hotelier who ran over a bride's mother on the eve of a wedding has been halted after prosecutors said there was no longer a prospect of a conviction.

Nicholas Bannister, 64, has been on trial at Bradford Crown Court since last week accused of causing the death of Judith Wadsworth, 66, by careless driving in the grounds of the Coniston Hotel and Spa.

On Tuesday, Bannister was formally acquitted by a jury on the directions of a judge after prosecutors said there was no longer a prospect of a conviction on the evidence available.

Wadsworth was crossing an access road near the main entrance to the hotel, near Skipton, North Yorkshire, when she was hit by Bannister's Range Rover in February 2020.

Prosecutor Michael Smith told the jury the prosecution was no longer offering any evidence.

Judge Jonathan Gibson said this was "an entirely appropriate decision in my view" and ordered the jury of four men and seven women to find Bannister not guilty.

Bannister, who is the owner and managing director of the hotel, said he did not wish to make a comment as he left court.

The prosecution case had run into difficulties during the evidence of the police officer who oversaw the investigation, who told jurors that she had recorded the exact position of Wadsworth's Mini car in the hotel car park in her notebook.

Lisa Judge, defending Bannister, told the court that this information had not been made available to the defence team and the notebook had not been disclosed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Judge said these "flagrant failures on behalf of the prosecution" meant much of the case presented against her client was no longer admissible, especially relating to a reconstruction done by the police in the hotel grounds two years after the incident.

Addressing the jury on Tuesday, Michael Smith, prosecuting, said the CPS had a duty to keep a case under review during a trial.

He said: "The CPS takes the view that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in this case."

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