A farmer accused of killing a woman in a road collision in Norfolk has told a court he had taken cocaine four days earlier but was not influenced by the drug at the time of the crash.
Henry Bett is the son of Stephen Bett, the former Tory chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, who now serves as the independent PCC for the county.
The 26-year-old, of Hall Lane, Thornham, Norfolk, denies causing death by dangerous driving at Peterborough Crown Court sitting in Huntingdon.
Mother-of-two Rebecca Brown, 43, died when the Fiat people carrier she was driving was crushed in the collision with Bett’s Fendt tractor on a country road in Norfolk.
Police found evidence Henry Bett had previously taken cocaine and may have been suffering the after effects when the crash happened at about 3.10pm on December 4 2013.
Giving evidence, Bett said he had taken cocaine “on occasions”. The last time that he had taken the drug before the collision was on November 30, he added.
Asked by Lawrence Bruce, defending, if he had been under the influence of cocaine or its after effects at the time of the incident, he said: “No.”
He added: “I have never experienced a come down effect.
“My understanding of one is people coming back from festivals and feeling miserable and basically depressed for a period of time.”
The maximum speed of the tractor was 40mph but on public roads it is illegal to drive tractors above 20mph.
Bett said he had set the vehicle’s speed limiter to comply with the law.
Asked why this was at the maximum level when inspected by officers, he said: “I didn’t set it at that level.”
He explained in interview that the dial must have been pushed forward as he was thrown on to the dashboard by the impact of the collision.
Bett added that all of the tractor’s lights were turned on as he drove home from working on the Narford Estate.
“I felt absolutely fine. I wasn’t in any hurry - I’d finished off early,” he added.
He said that because of a bend in the road he first saw Mrs Brown’s car when it was about 10 to 15 feet away. He thought her car was towards the centre of the road.
Asked about expert evidence that he was in fact in the centre of the road and Mrs Brown’s car was partially on the verge, he said: “To my knowledge I was as far over as I could be.”
The court heard Bett is a director of the family firm Thornham Farms and has been qualified to drive tractors since the age of 16.
Opening the trial, prosecutor Simon Wilshire told jurors that Bett had been speeding in his tractor along the West Acre Road when he collided head-on with Mrs Brown’s car.
Mrs Brown’s son attempted to resuscitate his mother and several other motorists stopped to help. But she was pronounced dead at 3.37pm.
The trial, which is expected to conclude next week, will be heard by a panel of 11 jurors after one member was discharged when concerns over were raised about her conduct.
Cross examined by Mr Wilshire, Bett agreed that if he had been driving his tractor in the middle of the road, it would not have been “careful and competent” driving.
He did not dispute expert evidence about the position of the vehicles but added: “I was driving carefully and competently. It was an accident.
“As far as I was concerned at the time, it was not avoidable.”