A tourist allegedly drove over a tent on a seaside campsite after a late night argument with his partner who was inside.

Andrew Layfield left a set of tyre marks across the grass leading up to the dome tent on the Widemouth Bay campsite near Bude. A set of tyre marks were also seen on the fabric of the tent itself.

Layfield had spent the night celebrating his birthday at the site’s Club Room before they returned to the tent where three children were also staying.

Holidaymakers in a neighbouring tent heard a loud argument between Layfield and his partner which led to him driving off and then returning and allegedly driving at the tent with the four people inside.

He was then seen getting out of his car and tearing the remains of the tent apart, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Layfield, aged 53, of South Quarry Piece Road, South Petherton, near Yeovil, denies dangerous driving but the jury have been told he admits the lesser offence of careless driving.

He says he got confused in the dark and accidentally hit a windbreak in front of the tent but did not hit the tent itself or have any intention of hurting anyone inside.

Miss Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said Layfield and his partner were staying in a tent in the Finch section of the campsite on July 25 last year when they went out to celebrate his birthday at the Club Room at the other side of the site.

The roads around the campsite were narrow, gravelled and there was a one way system and 5 mph speed limit and Layfield’s Vauxhall Insignia was parked near his tent.

Miss Bastock said camper Dominic Chadwick was staying in a tent close by and heard an argument between a man and a woman. She said: “Mr Chadwick looked out of his tent and saw Layfield get into his car and drive off, apparently faster than the 5 mph limit. 

“Things went quiet and after a few minutes he saw the vehicle pull up in front of the tent, get out, and argue with his partner again.. He then saw Layfield get back in the car and drive directly at a windbreak outside the tent and across part of the tent itself.”

Mr Chadwick heard things breaking inside the tent and woke a friend in his own tent, who called the police. They saw Layfield get out and pull the tent apart with his hands and get back into the car.

The jury were played part of a recording of a 999 call made by Layfield’s partner at 1.16 am in which she said “He is driving right at my tent.” She later told the officers who attended that she and the children had been in the middle part of the tent and had not been hurt.

Layfield drove away before the police arrived but was found parked in a layby near Exeter Airport and later arrested on the A 303 at March. He was breathalysed but the jury have been told that so much time had passed that its result is irrelevant to the events at the campsite.

He chose not to give evidence but had earlier told police he had hit the windbreak by accident and not driven at the tent.

The trial continues.