A LORRY driver was breaking the speed limit before he hit and killed a North-East man on a pedestrian crossing, a court has heard.

Paul Vowles tried to swerve but apparently clipped teaching assistant Jake Thompson with his truck’s nearside wing mirror on the A37 in Bristol in May 2011, Bristol Crown Court was told today (Monday, February 24).

Mr Thompson, originally from Belmont, Durham City, died in hospital five days later from extensive head injuries.

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The traffic lights on the pedestrian crossing were turning from amber to red when the 27-year-old stepped into the road, the jury was told.

But the light for pedestrians on the puffing crossing, which is next to the push button, was red.

One witness said he swore to himself as he guessed Mr Vowles’ 13-and-a-half tonne truck was travelling at between 35mph and 40mph as it headed onto Wells Road, which has a 30mph limit.

Dean Brown said he spotted the red and white Palmer and Harvey lorry and, swearing, thought to himself: “He’s going a bit too fast.”

Mr Brown said Mr Vowles did not see Mr Thompson until the last minute and there was nothing he could do.

A second witness, Neil Taylor, told the jury: “I didn’t have an impression if it (the truck) slowing down.

“The lights were changing from amber to red and I thought he might have cut it a bit fine.”

Mr Taylor described seeing a “flash of orange” and said the pedestrian “almost seemed to pirouette” as if he had been struck or clipped.

Mr Vowles, of Salcombe Road, Knowle, Bristol, denies causing death by careless driving.

Edward Burgess, prosecuting, said the 45-year-old, a truck driver of 26 years’ experience, was delivering groceries to a Tesco store and when he crossed the stop line at the pedestrian crossing he was calculated to be travelling at an average of 38mph.

When Mr Vowles saw Mr Thompson, he braked to about 27mph, the court heard, but he still hit him, sending him spinning into the air before he hit the ground.

The case is expected to continue all week.