THE trial of a County Durham man accused of causing death by dangerous driving, collapsed for legal reasons yesterday.

David Firbank, 42, of Ryeland Way, Pity Me, was due to stand trial at Newcastle Crown Court. He denies the charge of causing the death of Nichola Payne, known as Nikki, 28, of West Crescent, Darlington.

The Orange phone company worker was killed in an accident on the A1(M) near Washington service station in September last year. Her colleagues Ceri Beecher and Lisa Matson were hurt in the crash.

The trial of Mr Firbank, a probation officer, was due to be heard over four days, but yesterday after the trial had opened and the jury was sworn in, both legal teams decided the case would take longer than its allocated court time.

The case was put back until November 29 when it will be heard by Judge Gerard Harkins.

The judge also dismissed the jury at yesterday's hearing