An off-duty Army officer was killed and her husband left with a fractured skull after an unsecured generator fell off a flatbed truck, a court heard.

Stephen Dudley, 43, failed to use the ratchet straps provided on the back of the van he was driving and it bounced off, killing Emma Beeney, 40, and seriously injuring her husband Robert Beeney, 45.

Dudley wiped his face and held his head in his hands as a jury at Lewes Crown Court was shown pictures of the Ford Transit he was driving on August 8, 2016.

Dudley was on his way from Kent to a concrete-breaking job in Brighton with the generator and pneumatic drill when he drove over a level crossing at Etchingham.

Mrs Beeney was a Warrant Officer class two with 5 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

She was described as an excellent and determined Army officer.

Alan Gardner for the Crown told the jury: “There were various items on the back of the truck including a generator weighing 60kg attached to a hammer used to break up concrete.

“Unfortunately, he hadn’t used the straps available on the back of the vehicle.

“They were left unsecured on the back with tragic consequences.

“As the vehicle crossed the level crossing, the generator came out.

“It must have been thrown over the side,” Mr Gardner said

“Having been thrown out of the cargo area, it was dragged along behind.

“Two pedestrians were then struck by the generator.

“Mrs Emma Benney was fatally injured.

“Her husband Robert Beeney suffered serious injury.”

Mr Gardner said the driving was clearly dangerous and would have been obvious to any competent and careful driver.

“He was driving from Ashford to Brighton over varying road types and at varying speeds.

“It was down to him to make sure it was safe.”

The trip would have taken two hours, Mr Gardner said.

“The generator was left to slide and bounce around until it encountered the level crossing with the disastrous consequences,” he said.

Dudley had started work with Applewood Construction in Kent two weeks before the incident.

Dudley of Speldhurst Close, Ashford, Kent, denies causing the death of Emma Beeney by dangerous driving and serious injury to Robert Beeney.

The trial continues.