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West Bromwich Albion striker Lee Hughes pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving when he appeared in court today.

The 27-year-old forward entered his plea to the charge for the first time during a brief hearing at Coventry Crown Court.

Hughes, of Meriden, West Midlands, is said to have caused the death of 56-year-old Douglas Graham, who was a rear seat passenger in a car which was in collision with the footballer's Mercedes Coupe on the outskirts of Coventry on November 23 last year.

The Honorary Recorder of Coventry, Richard Cole, adjourned the case while a date for Hughes's trial was fixed.

Hughes, who wore a dark suit, white shirt and grey tie, spoke only to confirm his name and to reply ``Not guilty'' when formally accused of causing the death of Mr Graham in his silver Mercedes CL55 in Pickford Grange Lane between November 21 and November 24.

Andrew Smith, prosecuting, told the court that the Crown Prosecution Service was awaiting the gathering of additional evidence from the scene of the collision, and from Hughes's car, which should be completed within 28 days.

The striker, who started his professional career with Kidderminster Harriers and has also played for Coventry City, was granted a variation to his bail conditions which means that he need only report to police on Thursdays instead of on Sundays as well.

Hughes, of Leymere Close, Meriden, was not asked for a plea to another charge of failing to stop after an accident, as this is a matter which would normally be dealt with at a magistrates' court and will be considered at the end of his trial.
 
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