Jury retire in death crash case

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The jury in the case of a young driver who killed two friends have retired to consider their verdict.

Jordan Clayton, 20, is accused of causing death by dangerous driving after a crash which claimed the lives of Chorley students Jade Pickering and Tia Guye.

Standing trial at Bolton Crown Court, Clayton is accused of ignoring a number of signs which prohibited him from turning right at the junction of the A6 Blackrod bypass with Station Brow in September 2009.

After a week-long trial, the jury were released to consider their verdict yesterday.

In his closing speech, Geoff Whelan, prosecuting, said Clayton made a ‘deliberate choice’ to pull in front of the Mercedes coach, which was travelling to stops in Chorley and Preston after a trip to London, killing the two 16-year-old girls.

He said: “This is an emotive case. Two young girls lost their lives.

“What I would suggest is that the defendant was driving along the A6 approaching that junction with these very clear no right turn signs, these very clear ‘ahead only’ signs on the tarmac, no right turn illuminated on the traffic lights, and of course the sign on the road which says no right turn further back.

“The prosecution’s case is that he approached that junction intending to turn right and he did in fact do so.

“It was a deliberate choice to cross that junction.”

Clayton said he was taking Jade, Tia, and the surviving fourth passenger, Laurie Graham on a surprise trip to a bowling alley at the Reebok stadium when the crash took place.

The court had earlier from road accident experts who said the coaches tachograph showed that on the approach to the junction, the coach had been travelling no faster than 49mph, and at the time of the collision, was travelling no faster than 37mph.

At the time of the fatal smash, the speed limit on the road was 60mph for cars, and 50mph for coaches.

Defending Clayton, who had only been driving for three months at the time of the crash, Philip Parry said he had been ‘dazzled’ by the headlights from the coach and, thinking it was heading straight for his car, panicked and turned right to ‘get out of the way’.

He said: “He is never suggesting that the coach was on the other side of the road or could have stopped at the traffic lights.

“That’s not what this case is about.

“The defence says he had not intended to turn at all but when in the junction he panicked and thought the coach was coming towards him and fast, and in an agonising second he thought it would be best to turn.”

Clayton, who is now studying construction management at the University of Central Lancashire, has already pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.