AN elderly couple died because a Land Rover driver was going too fast round a bend, a court has been told.

Dennis Green, 81, and his wife Doreen, 80, were killed when their white Citroen Xsara collided with a Land Rover Defender and trailer driven by Robert William Verity, 26.

Mr and Mrs Green’s Citroen left the road and burst into flames after the crash at Northgate Lane near Gate Helmsley, in April last year.

York Crown Court was told. Verity, of Middlecroft Drive in Strensall, who works as a landscaper, denies two counts of causing death by careless driving.

Nick Adlington, prosecuting, said Verity’s driving fell short of the standards expected of a reasonable driver because he took a bend with restricted visibility “at a speed that was too fast to be able to safely stop if faced by a hazard in the road, be it a car, a horse, wildlife or a child”.

North Yorkshire Police accident investigator PC Stuart Langford told the jury he estimated that the Land Rover was travelling at 51mph before Verity lost control, and the wheels locked as he braked for 16 metres before it hit the Citroen.

He based his calculation on marks on the road and the damage to the vehicles.

Defence accident investigator consultant Dr Darren Walsh, who used a different method but also looked at the road and vehicle damage, told the jury he put the Land Rover’s speed at around 40mph.

Dr Walsh agreed that Verity had lost control of his vehicle before he braked.

The speed limit in Northgate Lane for a vehicle towing a trailer is 50mph, the jury heard.

Mr and Mrs Green, who lived in Strensall and had been married for 60 years, were pronounced dead at the scene.

After the collision, Verity’s Land Rover slid on its side for 11 metres on the road but he escaped injury, the court heard.

Mr Adlington said: “The Citroen was forced off the road to its nearside and caught fire while the Land Rover remained in the carriageway.”

The court heard that after the crash, Verity told police the Citroen appeared to be in the middle of the road when he saw it from about eight car lengths away. He said when he braked to allow the Citroen to proceed through the narrowing in the road, his trailer moved into the verge, lifting his vehicle up and altering his path.

While he was on the phone to emergency services, he heard the vehicle explode, he told police.

Verity, who listened to the opening of the prosecution case from the dock, had not been under the influence of drink or drugs, police said.

The trial continues.