11:00am Friday 6th February 2009
By Alison Cridland
A motorist who crashed into a motorbike killing a former stuntman told a jury he had no time to stop when a dog ran out in front of his car.
Roderick Chaffin-Laird, 64, said he instinctively swerved his Mercedes to avoid hitting the animal moments before the crash on country road on a dark night in October 2007.
He claimed he had no time to react when seconds later the headlights of victim Malcolm Dearn's BMW bike appeared around a bend on the A272 near Billingshurst.
Former motocross champion Mr Dearn, 60, of Ifield Road, Charlwood, Crawley, died at the scene of the crash at Coneyhurst.
Chaffin-Laird, of Monks Gate, near Horsham, denies causing death by careless driving and failing to give police permission to test a blood sample for alcohol.
Giving evidence at Lewes Crown Court yesterday he said he suffered flashbacks and nightmares about the crash but blamed a dog for causing the fatal accident.
He added: "A dog suddenly jumped from the hedgerow. It stopped in the road, turned and looked at me and froze.
"There was really no time to do anything.
"I felt a bump and the next thing I know my car had stopped.
"It was the most horrific, tragic accident.”
Chaffin-Laird said he had only had two glasses of wine all day and denied swallowing mints to mask the smell of alcohol.
He told the court he was staggering at the scene of the crash due to a back injury caused by an earlier accident.
The trial continues.
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