A hunt marshall was decapitated when he tried to stop a gyrocopter from taking off, a court has heard.
Trevor Morse died instantly when the rear propellor blade of the aircraft, rotating at 200mph, “cleaved his head from top to bottom” which “dramatically removed a portion of his brain”, a jury was told.
The 48-year-old was a road monitor for the Warwickshire Hunt and had tried to prevent Bryan Griffiths taking off in the aircraft when he allegedly drove at him at speed at Long Marston Airfield in Warwickshire on 9 March last year.
Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court were today shown shocking video footage of the moment Griffiths, 55, drove at Mr Morse and gasped as they saw him lying dead on the runway. They heard commentary on the film which said “oh dear, the t**t did not stand clear of it”.
Opening the trial, Gareth Evans QC said: “He deliberately drove the gyrocopter at Trevor Morse with the rear propellor at a speed of 200mph.
“Doing so we say is reckless in the extreme because the manoeuvre carried with it a very real risk that Mr Morse was going to come into contact with the revolving rear blade of the gyrocopter.
“We say that he had no chance of avoiding being struck and that the risk of him being seriously injured or killed was not obvious, it was real and high.
“To take that risk was gross negligence.
“His death was instantaneous. The prosecution say that this man is criminally liable of his death. We say he is guilty of manslaughter and caused Trevor Morse’s death by his own gross negligence.
“Mr Morse, a hunt supporter, drove his Land Rover onto the airfield to prevent Griffiths from taking off as the master of the hunt wanted to speak to him because it [the gyrocopter] was disturbing livestock, the court was told.
The jury heard Griffiths, from Bedworth, Warwickshire, ordering him to move in the video footage but Morse refused to move.
Mr Evans told the jury: “There is no doubt he was intent on stopping that gyrocopter from taking off.
“At one stage he moved his Land Rover closer to the gyrocopter to stop it taking off. He (Griffiths) started up the rear propellor blades.
“Mr Morse moved closer to the gyrocopter in an deliberate attempt to try and stop it taking off because he did not believe this man would drive at him.
“It is quite clear they wanted to go, it was clear that Mr Morse didn’t want them to go. Mr Morse stood his ground.
“This was not a gently nudging movement. It was carried out at speed by a pilot capable of controlling his movement, inching it forward. But it was not inched forward.”
The court heard there was a “mutual distrust” and “friction” between the two camps and the hunts people were “very unhappy’ about Griffiths flying over and disturbing livestock.
Griffiths, a plumber, had landed the gyrocopter at the airfield to refuel and met Peter Bunce, who was filming that day — the last day of the hunt season.
The court heard there were no mechanical faults with the aircraft and that Griffiths was a qualified pilot.
Griffiths denies manslaughter by gross negligence. The trial continues.