BROWNIES in church grounds escaped “serious injury or even death” when a “flying” car smashed into a tree just metres away, a court heard.

Eleven girls were in the car park of Nelson Independent Methodist Church on Netherfield Road, with several adults, when a Vauxhall Vectra crashed on the other side of the church wall.

The Brownies, who had been on a chocolate hunt, had been very upset by the incident, Burnley magistrates heard.

Eighteen-year-old Haroon Hussain, who had passed his test just five weeks earlier, was at the wheel. He tried to run off but was caught nearby.

Hussain, of Beaufort Street, Nelson, admitted driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after an accident.

He was given a community order with a two-week curfew and told to pay £250 compensation. Nine penalty points were imposed on his licence and he must now take a fresh driving test.

Bus driver Patrick McLoughlin, who spotted the Vectra earlier, said he saw the vehicle “flying round the bend”.

John Rusius, defending, said his client was not an experienced driver.

He had panicked after the accident and then left the scene.

Hussain wished to apologise for what happened.