Student accused of murdering fiance cries in court as she describes 'nightmare' of 'finding him under her car'

18 December 2023, 20:16

Alice Wood, 23, is accused of using her Ford Fiesta "as a weapon" and running over Ryan Watson, 24, near their home in Rode Heath,
Alice Wood, 23, is accused of using her Ford Fiesta "as a weapon" and running over Ryan Watson, 24, near their home in Rode Heath,. Picture: Alamy/Social Media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A philosophy student accused of murdering her fiance cried in court as she described the "nightmare" of realising he was "under her car".

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Wood, 23, allegedly used her Ford Fiesta as a "weapon" as she drove it 158 metres with Ryan Watson underneath the car near their home in Cheshire last year.

Wood told the court on Monday that on the night of his death, she and Mr Watson had been at a party with staff and service users of the brain injury charity Headway, where he was a support worker.

She said she drove her fiance's Fiat Punto home from the party, despite being over the legal alcohol limit, and said her fiance's attitude towards her "flipped".

"Straight away he was accusing me of flirting with other men at the party and he started calling me a slag, saying I'd embarrassed him and shown him up in front of everyone," she told the court.

Ryan Watson
Ryan Watson. Picture: social media

Wood said when they returned to their home on Oak Street, she wanted to call her father to pick her up but could not find her phone.

She said she repeatedly asked Mr Watson if she could use his phone to call her father and at one point, when they were back in their house, he "erupted" towards her, grabbing her by her hair extensions and leaning her over the oven hob while holding the ignition switch and saying: "Ask me one more f****** time."

Wood said she went to her car to leave and described an argument between her and Mr Watson while she was in the driver's seat and he was outside the car.

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She told the jury: "I'd said for a final time 'Ryan, just go inside, just go to bed and I'll be back in the morning, I'm going to go to my mum's' and after that he said 'your mum's f****** dead'."

In tears, she told the court Mr Watson had threatened to send someone to have her mother "knifed up".

She said she reversed out of the car park she had been in, hitting Mr Watson's car as well as a bin and bollard, and onto Sandbach Road.

Wood told the court after she reversed she decided to "swerve" her car towards Mr Watson and stop just short of him to "scare" him.

She said: "He'd scared me and I know that doesn't make it excusable but in my head at that time I just felt so frightened and I wanted him to feel like I did."

Alice Wood leaves Chester Crown Court during her trial, she is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Ryan Watson
Alice Wood leaves Chester Crown Court during her trial, she is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Ryan Watson. Picture: Alamy

She described seeing Mr Watson hit the windscreen, which she said "shocked" her but said she then saw him back on his feet.

Wood said she reversed again before driving down Sandbach Road.

She said she did not see Mr Watson in front of her car at that time, although she now accepted he was knocked down and his body went under the car.

Wood told the court her car felt as if it was not accelerating properly so after travelling a short distance down the road she stopped and got out of the car.

Crying, she said: "It was like stepping into a nightmare because I could see Ryan underneath the car. It was like I was in hell, It didn't seem real."

Wood said she accepted causing Mr Watson's death but said she did not do it deliberately.

She agreed she went to see medical professionals after his death because she was "struggling".

She added: "I was just heartbroken."

Cross-examining Wood about her account that Mr Watson had accused her of flirting at the party, Andrew Ford KC, prosecuting, said: "Is the truth not the other way round, that you became unhappy with his behaviour?"

She replied: "That's not true."

When Mr Ford suggested Wood had lost her temper, she said: "I hadn't lost my temper. I didn't want to hurt Ryan."

She said she and Mr Watson began a relationship in March 2020 and became engaged in September that year, buying a house together in October 2021.

In May last year, she was preparing for final exams in a theology, philosophy and ethics degree and had been awarded a scholarship for a research masters, she said.

Wood denies murder and an alternative count of manslaughter.

The trial was adjourned to Tuesday.