A POLICE officer crashed his car on an icy road while twice the legal drink driving limit, killing his girlfriend, a court heard.
PC Brendan Buggie, 39, was giving Justyna Stanczak a lift home when his Toyota Celica car skidded and collided with a stationary van on Manchester Road, Ramsbottom, Bradford Crown Court heard.
And when a neighbour, Judith Hilton, heard the collision and came out to offer assistance, she could smell alcohol on the off-duty officer’s breath, it is alleged.
Buggie was uninjured in the collision, which occurred just after midnight on December 5 last year but Miss Stanczak suffered massive internal injuries.
She briefly regained consciousness after being taken to Fairfield Hospital’s accident and emergency unit but lost her fight for life at around 4.30am.
Prosecutors say Buggie, who failed a roadside breath test and was arrested, should have been aware of the ‘treacherous’ road conditions that night.
Buggie, of Rochdale Road, Edenfield, who works for Greater Manchester Police, denies causing the death of Miss Stanczak by careless driving.
Nicholas Williams, prosecuting, said that by his own admission Buggie had drank around six pints of bitter that night. But he denied this had impaired his driving.
He started drinking at the Irwell Brewery before visiting the First Chop wine bar, where Miss Stanczak worked. Buggie then had a Chinese takeaway before stopping at The Oaks pub and returning to the First Chop.
Buggie and Miss Stanczak then went for a drink at the Irwell Brewery before closing time. The couple, who had started a relationship just weeks before, started walking home to Edenfield.
But they were spotted en-route by taxi driver Elaine Singleton, the mother of his ex-girlfriend Lucy Fox, jurors heard. Miss Stanczak was Miss Fox’s best friend.
Mr Williams said this prompted a series of text messages between Buggie, Miss Stanczak and Miss Fox. This appeared to upset Miss Stanczak so Buggie said he decided to drive her back to Bury, where she lived.
Buggie had to de-ice his Celica before setting off, the court heard, travelling along the A56 Manchester Road through Edenfield towards Bury.
Just past Park Farm, near a row of cottages, while negotiating a left-hand bend, Buggie lost control of the Celica and it crashed into a white LDV Convoy van, parked on the opposite side of the road.
Interviewed about the moments before the collision, Buggie later told police he had felt the back end of the vehicle ‘swing out’ and he tried to steer into the skid. But the car had swung in the opposite direction, causing the impact on the front passenger side.
Mr Williams said: “Residents from the nearby cottages came outside and one of them, when she leaned into the car to ask whether an ambulance should be called, could smell alcohol.”
One police sergeant who arrived at the scene asked Buggie if he had been drinking, which he confirmed.
And when asked by the officer: “How much?”, he simply replied ‘enough’, the jury was told.
Prosecutors allege Buggie should have been aware of the ‘prevailing road conditions’ and modified his driving accordingly. Buggie will argue that what occurred ‘could have happened to anyone’, the court heard.