Teenager re-lives loss of ‘first love’

Witness appeal signs at the spot on Brockholes Brow where the two young women were killed
Witness appeal signs at the spot on Brockholes Brow where the two young women were killed

A teenager appeared before a jury to re-live the horrific moment his young sweetheart was mown down by a car.

Tom Kearns described 17-year-old Shelby Maher as his “first love” and told Preston Crown Court “I thought it was for life.”

But as the pair crossed Brockholes Brow with three other young people one April evening in 2016, Shelby and Rachel Murphy, 23, were killed by a BMW driven by Mohammed Salman Patel, who the prosecution claim had been using his mobile phone to text his girlfriend seconds before impact.

Megan Blakey, who was 15 at the time, was also struck, but survived. She appeared in court yesterday, along with Tom Kearns and Liam Finlayson, to recount the events of the night their lives were turned upside down in a split second.

They told the court via DVD interviews and live TV links how they had set off for an evening chilling on the banks of the River Ribble and had been singing and dancing as they made their way down Brockholes Brow.

“It was the happiest I have seen them all,” said Liam, who was 17 at the time. “I had never seen Shelby singing or dancing in public before.”

Liam said the five friends set out to cross Brockholes Brown near the bottom of the hill to get down to the river bank. The two boys crossed first, with the three girls behind them. When the boys reached the other side they looked back and the girls waved at them. A car stopped on the Preston-bound inside lane to let the girls cross, but as they did a BMW overtook in the second lane and collided with all three, clipping Megan on the leg, but hitting Shelby and Rachel head on. Rachel was killed instantly and Shelby died later in hospital.

Tom told the court he had been going out with Shelby for eight months. “I loved her,” he said. They had been going down to the river bank to “go somewhere calm and quiet as friends.” They were playing music and “having a nice time.”

Patel, 27, of Carham Road, Blackburn denies causing the deaths of Shelby and Rachel by dangerous driving. He has admitted the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Earlier a driver who witnessed the collision was adamant he saw Patel holding a mobile phone in his hand at the wheel just seconds before impact.

He flatly denied a suggestion by Paul Hynes QC for the defence that in fact it had been a vape device.

“I know what I saw,” said David Smith who was travelling home from work to Preston when Patel’s BMW overtook him moments before it ploughed into the women. “I know the difference between a mobile phone and a vape machine.”

Proceeding.