A man accused of killing an off-duty ambulance worker by driving over him in a pub car park admits he was “mortal drunk” at the time.

Toby Kelly was giving evidence at his trial at Newcastle Crown Court where he has now admitted the manslaughter of Sheldon Flanighan, but denies his murder and the attempted murder of a second man.

Kelly, 38,of Wansbeck Avenue, Blyth, is said to have driven over Mr Flanighan and his friend Wayne Common, both 55 at the time, as they tried to prevent him driving away from the Bay Horse Inn, in Cramlington, at about 10pm on April 1, this year.

Following a disturbance inside the pub minutes earlier Kelly, his on/off partner and another friend were told they would not be served any more.

There was a further disturbance as Kelly dragged his girlfriend out by her legs and Mr Flanighan and Mr Common intervened and told him he should not be driving in his condition.

But the court was told that having pulled his girlfriend into the van, Kelly drove aggressively and erratically around the car park, knocking down and driving over Mr Flanighan and Mr Common, before accelerating away from the area.

Mr Flanighan was declared dead at the scene by paramedics attending to their colleague, an ambulance care assistant, while Mr Common was taken to hospital seriously injured.

The Northern Echo:

Giving evidence, Kelly said what happened to Mr Flanighan and Mr Common was “tragic” and his fault, due to the manner of his driving, although he claimed he had not tried to hurt anyone.

In re-examination by defence counsel Nigel Edwards KC, Kelly said he believed the deceased and his friend were trying to stop him drink driving.

“I was too drunk to be in charge of a vehicle, to be fair,” using the expression, “mortal drunk”.

Mr Edwards asked what he meant by the term “mortal drunk”, Kelly said it was a local expression for, “very drunk”.

Kelly said: “I would have known what I was doing but because of the level of intoxication the thought processes aren’t the same as when you are sober.”

Asked if he would say he drove the vehicle “dangerously”, Kelly accepted he had, relating to his manoeuvres in the car park.

“Within the car park I would say it was all dangerous”

He conceded he had, “a duty of care” to those pedestrians in the car park, and there was no-one else to blame but himself for what happened.

Kelly was asked as he drove backwards and forwards if he was aware there was anything behind the van.

He replied: “I didn’t know, I wasn’t really thinking”, but he denied it was him trying to defend himself from Mr Flanighan and Mr Common.

Asked by Mr Lumley: “Did you intend to cause those injuries?”, he replied: “No, definitely not.”

He said if he had not been drinking he would have handled the situation differently.

But he said: “I’m not using the drink as an excuse, but I think it would have been (a different outcome if he had not been drinking).

Mr Lumley asked him why he had now pleaded guilty to manslaughter, to which Kelly replied: “Because of my actions, the way I was driving.

“I had a duty of care for the pedestrians.

“I said from the beginning of this I was ‘guilty’ of death by dangerous driving and, the more I think about it, the more I believe I was responsible for the death of Mr Flanighan and Mr Commons’ injuries.

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“I have just got to accept the manner of my driving and the steps I took I should have handled it differently.

“The one thing I do know is that I did not intent to injure anyone.”

The trial continues tomorrow (Tuesday, October 31).