Man accused of killing girlfriend fled scene and asked stranger to call him a taxi home

A man who allegedly killed his girlfriend after crashing into a bin lorry fled the scene and asked a stranger to call him a taxi home, a jury heard.

Michelle Atherton died following the head-on collision on Broad Oak Road in St Helens[1] on July 5 last year. Her boyfriend, Kevin Marsh, went on trial at Liverpool Crown Court[2] today accused of causing the 47-year-old's death by dangerous driving, but claims he lost control of his car when she "tried to grab hold of the steering wheel".

Arthur Gibson told a jury of four men and eight women during the prosecution's opening this afternoon, Tuesday, that the refuse vehicle involved in the smash left the depot on Parr Street in the town at around 6.45am on the day in question in order to commence a round in the Newton-le-Willows[3] area. This route took its crew eastbound along Broad Oak Road, a 30mph road where the "surface was damp, if not wet, from earlier rainfall".

As the truck approached the bend near to the junction with Delta Road, its driver noticed a white Ford Fiesta which was travelling in the opposite direction at an estimated speed of between 52mph and 54mph. This car then "suddenly steered to the right" and veered into the wagon's path, colliding "head-on" despite an "immediate correction back towards the left".

Footage of the fatal crash captured by the lorry's dashcam was shown to jurors. One member of Ms Atherton's family sat in the public gallery with his hands on his head as the video was played, while one woman walked out of the courtroom.

Mr Gibson told the court Marsh, of Gaskell Street, had been the driver of the car, with his then partner being the front seat passenger. She was "severely injured" in the incident and was pronounced dead in Aintree[6] Hospital at 8.48am the same day.

The prosecutor said: "What of Mr Marsh? It seems that he may have been knocked unconscious, or at the very least dazed, as a result of the collision because, for a while, he remained in the car.

"But he did not stay there. Having got out of the car and recovered from the immediate effects of the collision, he started to walk away up Delta Road.

"It seems he turned right down an alleyway which ran along the back of the houses which border Broad Oak Road before entering the back garden of one of the houses and going down the side of the house, until he returned to the pavement of Broad Oak Road. Having done so, he went and knocked on the door of a house occupied by Mr Lewis Molyneux and his partner.

"What would you have expected Mr Marsh to say to Mr Molyneux when he opened the door? Something like, 'please can you help me, I’ve been injured in a car crash and my partner is still in the car, badly injured'?

"Mr Marsh did not say that, or anything like that. He asked Mr Molyneux to call him a taxi.

"In the distance, Mr Molyneux could see the crash and asked the defendant whether that was his car. 'No', replied Mr Marsh, 'I was in town and jumped on my way home', and repeated his request for a taxi, which Mr Molyneux proceeded to book for him using an app on his phone."

But Marsh was then spotted by refuse staff and made to remain in the area until the police arrived. The 43-year-old said to the workers as they walked back towards the wrecked car: "What car, I don't have a car?"

He told another binman: "I wasn’t driving that car. It’s my cousin’s car.

"You’re not setting me up are you? You’d better not be f***ing setting me up?"

As they approached the scene, he continued: "Ah s***. That's not my car. It's my sister's. What's it doing here?"

Mr Gibson said of this: "You will of course have noticed that, in all his utterances, he did not ask once after Ms Atherton, who was still in the car being tendered to by a member of the public who happened to be an off-duty nurse."

Once handed over to officers, Marsh told them: "Don’t be blaming me for this s***. Listen, this has nothing to do with me, I got a taxi here.

"I've not drove that car. I've not been in that car."

Marsh also claimed to one PC that he had been "walking down the road when the accident happened". He was said to have "changed his tune momentarily" when he told paramedics he had been "sat in the driver's seat", but upon his arrival at Belle Vale Police Station "changed his mind again" and said: "I don't remember driving that f***ing car."

The dad was subsequently taken to Whiston Hospital as a result of his injuries. The court heard he had failed a roadside test which indicated that he had 58 micrograms of alcohol in his system per 100 millilitres of breath, the legal limit being 35.

Samples taken from him in hospital indicated his blood alcohol limit at the time of the crash "would have been in the region of twice the legal limit for driving". Marsh also failed initial tests for cocaine and cannabis, and continued to be over the limit for these drugs six hours after the collision.

He was interviewed by detectives on the evening of July 13 after being discharged from hospital and made no comment under questioning. But he did give a prepared statement in which he said Ms Atherton had forced him to drive to his ex-girlfriend's house after they had argued about him lending her money.

Marsh alleged his partner had been armed with a hammer at this time and damaged some of the windows at the address. He also stated she suffered from mental health issues and had been "refusing to take her medication", and that he "lost control of the car because Michelle was trying to grab the steering wheel prior to the collision".

Mr Gibson said: "You may wonder why, if this collision was caused by the actions of Ms Atherton in trying to get hold of the steering wheel, Mr Marsh had not said that to the refuse department managers or indeed the police who spoke to him at the scene. But at that stage of course, all he was interested in doing, you may think, was to lie about not being the driver."

Marsh's ex, Gemma Bainbridge, confirmed he had lent her £300 in April 2023, but also stated he had "contacted her trying to rekindle their relationship" in the 10 months since their split and "would become nasty and threatening" when she refused his advances. He was said to have threatened to "put her windows in unless she gave him the money" in one email sent on June 26 last year.

When she was walking home after taking her children to school on the morning of July 3, she reported he had driven past her in his car and shouted "you're going to get tw******". Marsh was alleged to have followed this up with a series of texts and phone calls early on July 5, some from Ms Atherton's number, which went unanswered.

That same morning Ms Bainbridge said she heard a "loud bang at her front door" and looked out to see the deceased walking away from her home. She then found a pane of glass in the door has been smashed, and called the police.

Mr Gibson told the court: "Kevin Marsh was uninsured, almost twice the legal limit in relation to alcohol and above the limit for driving with illegal drugs in his bloodstream. You may therefore think he would ensure he drove carefully within the speed limit, not to draw attention to himself.

"But, on the other hand, fuelled with alcohol and drugs following an argument with his ex-wife about money and having threatened his ex-partner Gemma Bainbridge two days earlier, and having gone that morning with his new partner to Ms Bainbridge's address and causing a window to be smashed, you may feel he wanted to get away from the area as fast as possible."

Jurors heard that two experts had "concluded that the position of the Fiesta as it entered the bend was such that it could not have successfully negotiated the bend had it been travelling at 52mph or above". Mr Gibson added: "The prosecution say that, before anything else happened, Mr Marsh was undoubtedly driving this vehicle dangerously.

"He was driving at a grossly excessive speed whilst under the influence of drink and drugs. He had failed to obey warning signs as he approached the bend, he failed to take account of the wet road and positioned his car on the road in such a position that if he maintained a speed of 52mph he simply could not have got round that bend.

"Eight days after the crash, Mr Marsh tried to blame his dead girlfriend for turning the steering wheel to cause the car to move into the opposite lane and collide with the Mercedes truck after having told the police at the time and the council workers that it was not him behind the wheel of the car. But I remind you of what he said in his prepared statement, 'I lost control of the car because Michelle was trying to grab the steering wheel'.

"But he does not say she succeeded does he? The prosecution say it is implicit in that statement that it was his hands that were on the steering wheel and his hands which caused it to turn to the right and into collision with the truck.

"What if he and Ms Atherton had been arguing and she had tried to grab the wheel? The prosecution say that does not matter.

"He was driving the car at a greatly excessive speed whilst under the influence of drink and drugs. In other words, he was driving dangerously.

"He had started to enter the bend at a speed which was too fast for him to negotiate unless he slowed down significantly. These factors caused the collision which resulted in the loss of Ms Atherton’s life or at the very least contributed to it, and that is all the prosecution have to make you sure of in order for you return a verdict of guilty of the charge of causing death by dangerous driving."

Marsh, who is defended by Michael O'Brien, denies causing death by dangerous driving and lesser charges of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs and causing death by driving while uninsured. The trial before Judge David Aubrey KC continues, and is expected to run into next week.

Don't miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here[7]


  1. ^ St Helens (
  2. ^ Liverpool Crown Court (
  3. ^ Newton-le-Willows (
  4. ^ These are the faces of 505 Merseyside criminals who were jailed during 2023 (
  5. ^ 'Will Young lookalike' and brothers carry out brutal attack on Liverpool gang (
  6. ^ Aintree (
  7. ^ Don't miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here (