‘THERE are no winners with this case, there are only losers’.
The words of the judge overseeing the trial of Jordan Clayton, unanimously cleared on Tuesday of causing death by dangerous driving following a horror crash which claimed the lives of Chorley teens Jade Pickering and Tia Guye.
The jury at Bolton Crown Court took under two hours to decide that Clayton, 20, was not driving dangerously when he pulled in front of a coach on the A6 Blackrod bypass in September 2009.
In emotional scenes on Tuesday, Clayton stood silent and closed his eyes as two not guilty verdicts were read out.
He has already pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.
But the judge, His Honour Judge Steven Everett, slammed the handling of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, saying they ‘ratcheted up emotions’ among the distraught families of the two victims.
It is claimed officers told Tia and Jade’s heartbroken families how Clayton had, after making an initial statement to police, replied ‘no comment’ to every question thereafter.
Judge Everett said: “There are features of this case that I am most unhappy about.
“There is an element you (the jury) would not be aware of, and that is the suggestion the victim’s families had had their emotions ratcheted up by the behaviour of certain police officers in this case.
“It still comes down to this. Two young girls died, another girl was left with injuries, and a young man has had to live with this for the last two-and-a-half years.”
Tia and Jade, who both lived on Eaves Lane and attended Runshaw College in Leyland, were laughing and dancing in the car with Clayton and surviving passenger Laurie Graham just moments before the smash.
Clayton was accused of ignoring a number of warning signs which prohibited from turning right at the junction with the A6 Blackrod bypass and Station Brow, pulling into the path of an oncoming Mercedes coach.
Judge Everett said: “There is a feature that the police had already decided they had a certain version of events and went with that not withstanding some very important evidence.
“Here we are two-and-a-half years later. It is most unsatisfactory. The police and the CPS will be coming back with their flak jackets on.
“Although he (Clayton) was certainly was at fault, he was by no means at fault as the prosecution suggested.”
Clayton will be sentenced for two counts of causing death by careless driving on March 2.
- For a full report of the trial, see this week’s Chorley Guardian