A MAN has admitted throwing a bottle at a passing car, smashing a window and showering glass over a nine-year-old girl in the front seat.

But a trial of issue may be staged to decide if it was a deliberate act by Matthew McCrea, or if it was reckless, as he claims.

Abbie Keers, of Stanley, County Durham, was the front seat passenger in the Fiat Punto driven by her grandmother, Sandra Webb, on the A693 in the town when the glass beer bottle was thrown from the direction of a nearby subway, on Friday, February 14.

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The passenger side window shattered and glass particles became embedded in Abbie’s face, causing an initial fear for her vision in her right eye.

She suffered cuts and grazes round her forehead, nose, hands and above the eye, for which she required facial plastic surgery.

Appearing for a preliminary hearing in the case, at Durham Crown Court today (Tuesday, May 20), twenty-four-year-old McCrea admitted a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm.

But, his barrister, Liam O’Brien, told the court that the ‘guilty’ plea was made on the basis that the bottle was thrown recklessly by McCrea.

In response, prosecution counsel Paul Newcombe told the court: “I’m rather sceptical.

“Trying to smash a car window takes some force, but it may be that evidentially we have no way of rebutting what’s being said.

“We may instruct a vehicle expert to see what sort of force might need to be used to throw a beer bottle and smash a car window.

“It’s being painted as if it’s almost casually been tossed into the road, accidentally going through a window, which, evidentially, seems hard to accept.

“We may take sightings from an expert and even, possibly, reconstruct the incident.

“Obviously, it depends what speed the vehicle was travelling at the point of impact.”

Judge Simon Hickey adjourned the hearing for six weeks to allow the Crown to decide if they are to accept the basis of plea, or if it is to be contested at a Newton hearing.

Mr O’Brien asked that a background report is drawn up, in the meantime, on the defendant by the Probation Service prior to the next hearing, should the prosecution accept the basis of plea.

Bailing McCrea, of Tyne Vale, Stanley, to return to court on June 30, Judge Hickey told him: “We’ll then see if the basis is accepted, or not. There may be some movement in that time.

“But it’s still in your interest to assist in having a pre-sentence report prepared. “