A MAN was driving at "80 miles an hour plus" before a crash which left his friends seriously injured, a court has heard.

Jurors at Bournemouth Crown Court heard that 23-year-old Mitchell Knight was driving too fast for the road conditions when his Renault Clio swerved and left the A337 just north of Lyndhurst at around midnight on Monday, April 29, 2013.

The car, which belonged to Knight's mother, skidded and collided with a tree at an estimated 60mph, before ending up on its roof in a ditch, the court heard.

The three passengers suffered serious injuries and were treated in intensive care for several weeks.

One, Liam Blake, was left paralysed as a result, and will require care for the rest of his life, the hearing was told.

Speaking through a video link yesterday, Mr Blake - who is confined to a wheelchair - said he had warned Knight to slow down "seconds" before the crash, adding that the defendant had been driving at between 80 and 90mph.

Ian Bridge, defending Knight, said to the witness: "Mitchell doesn't remember you saying anything to him about the speed or warning him about the speed and he would say you're mistaken about that."

Mr Blake, who was travelling in the front seat of the Clio at the time of the collision, replied: "[He's a] liar."

One of the men in the back seat, Grant Taylor, said he had heard one of the other passengers in the car saying "whoa, slow down dude" to Mitchell in the moments before the smash.

Jurors had earlier been shown a video of police interviewing Mr Blake and his mother Shelagh as the casualty lay in a hospital bed with the blinds over the windows drawn.

Asked about her son's injuries, Ms Blake replied: "There is a lot of praying. We just pray."

She added: "We are waiting for a miracle."

Daily Echo:

Knight told jurors he had seen "eyes" that he believed were those of "a deer or a fox" in the undergrowth beside the road when he swerved, and had been travelling "between 65 and 70mph" at the time of the collision.

"I saw what I believed to be an animal or eyes at the side of the road," he said.

"I was surprised, shocked. Then I pulled the steering wheel over to the right."

Knight said he had become depressed following the crash, and attempted to take his own life.

Asked if his driving had fallen "far below" the standard of careful driving, he replied: "Absolutely not.

"It was not dangerous driving."

Prosecuting, Andy Houston said there were road signs warning of animals in the road for three miles placed a mile-and-a-half away from the scene of the crash.

"The speed limit is 60mph and you have accepted that you drove between 65and 70mph - do you still maintain you have done nothing wrong?" he asked.

Knight replied: "I didn't see it as dangerous.

"It wasn't a dangerous speed for that sort of road. It was completely straight."

Mr Houston said: "You know you were driving way too fast, don't you?

"And you're trying to evade responsibility for it."

The defendant, of Hepworth Close in Southampton, suffered a broken wrist and bruises in the crash.

He denies two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The trial continues.