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'Jealous' ex said she was not trying to kill with car at The Lizard

By WBNews  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

The mother accused of trying to run down her former partner and love rival with a car denied she intended to kill them.

Karen Orchard, 40, told the Truro Crown Court jury yesterday (Wednesday) she had not been motivated by hatred and jealousy when she allegedly drove at Geoffrey "Joff" Richards and Roseanna Vanhorn.

"I did not intend to kill them, " she declared when questioned by prosecutor Llewellyn Sellick.  "I only wanted to speak to them."

Orchard agreed she had driven dangerously when she deliberately knocked down a gate, "but it was only dangerous to myself," she said.  She was not aware the gate had fallen onto Ms Vanhorn, who was dragged clear by Mr Richards as they ran from her.

Orchard, of Parc an Ithan, The Lizard, and said to be of good character, has denied two charges alleging that she had attempted to murder Mr Richards, with whom she had lived for more than seven years, and Ms Vanhorn in  Lizard village on January 21.

She has also denied two charges of having intentionally attempted to cause them grievous bodily harm and two of dangerous driving.

The trial previously heard she drove at them three times as they tried to flee after she saw them get out of Ms Vanhorn's car together in the village square.

Questioned by her counsel, Michael Melville-Shreeve, the mother of two daughters agreed she had been shocked, angry and upset when she saw the pair walking hand in hand. 

"All sorts of questions were running through my mind.  I assumed they were in a relationship and that made me very upset," she said.

Orchard admitted she had poured paint onto Ms Vanhorn's car and pushed it towards a shop window, saying: "It was a revenge act."

She had bumped into a concrete bollard and reversed and smashed through a gate when the pair ran from her in the Regent Cafe car park but she had no intention of hurting them.

Mr Melville-Shreeve called two witnesses who spoke of Orchard being a "caring, loving, honest genuine person" who was a registered child minder, had set up a play group in the village and worked with teenagers in outreach.

Linda Sherriff, of St Keverne, said she had known Orchard from birth. She was 18 months old when her 20-year-old mother died of asthma.

Orchard revealed that after taking her A levels at Helston Comprehensive School she studied child care and worked as a nanny locally before eventually moving to the USA under an exchange scheme. She met and married her husband there and in 200l  returned to The Lizard as they wanted their two daughters to be brought up and educated in England, but they separated soon afterwards.

Orchards said she met Mr Richards in 2002, while working behind the bar at the Top House pub in the village and began living with him in 2003.  "We lived together for seven-and-a-half years but it was complicated and for five months we lived apart but met at weekends. We last had an evening together on December 8 last."

She met Ms Vanhorn in early 2010 and they became close friends.

Orchard told the jury about her asthma from childhood and a broken ankle, and said she went into Royal Cornwall Hospital on January 5. She was there for eight days and did not know why she didn't receive any visitors.

She was still quite poorly when she returned home on January 13 to look after her daughters.

Detective Constable Jonathan Bray confirmed that on legal advice Orchard had declined to answer most questions when interviewed.

He also confirmed that neither Mr Richards, a plumber, nor Ms Vanhorn had wanted to press charges against her.

The jury of eight women and four men was due to go out to consider its verdict.

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