AN East Yorkshire woman was today cleared of causing a car crash that killed her sister - shortly after their soldier brother was killed in Afghanistan.
28-year-old Jennie Stone died when her car ploughed into a tree after it was hit by another vehicle driven, in a “tragic coincidence”, by her sister, Hull Crown Court had heard.
Today the jury found sister Rosie-Ann Stone, 20, not guilty of causing the death by careless driving.
The crash happened just months after Jennie and Rosie-Ann’s brother, Private Gregg Stone, was killed while serving with the Army in Afghanistan.
Pte Stone, of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, was shot dead as he took part in a mission to rescue an Afghan policeman in Helmand Province on June 3 last year.
The case had been the subject of a high-profile campaign, supported by TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson, to have charges against Rosie-Ann dropped.
Speaking after the verdict, Jonathan Sharp, Principal Crown Advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “We are aware of the incredibly emotive circumstances of this case but when making decisions in any case we must adhere to the Code for Crown Prosecutors which requires us to consider whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute.
“Before taking the decision to proceed with this case, we carefully considered all the evidence, including expert evidence from the scene and the testimony of eye witnesses, and concluded that there was sufficient evidence to charge Rosie-Ann Stone with driving without due care and causing a fatality.
“In order to determine whether it was in the public interest to prosecute we took into consideration the different views expressed among Jennie’s family.
“This was a very difficult decision, but weighing up all the considerations we concluded that, on balance, the public interest factors tending towards prosecution, outweighed those tending against and that it was in the public interest to charge Rose-Ann Stone and for the court to decide on her culpability.”
“All the evidence has been placed before the jury, who have now returned their verdict, which we of course accept.”
Inspector Mark Hughes of Humberside Police said: “This was a tragic case. We have worked closely with Jennie’s family to try and ensure that they understood the necessity of carrying out an impartial investigation.
“This involved a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the collision. The facts were presented to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who having reviewed the evidence made the decision to charge Rosie-Ann Stone with causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.
“Now the investigation and trial into Jennie Stone’s death has concluded I hope that her family can move on and, in time, come to terms with their loss.”
Jennie died when her blue Peugeot 206 car hit a tree next to the A165, near the village of Fraisthorpe, in East Yorkshire, on February 18 last year.
Her sister was in tears when she explained from the witness box how the crash happened.
Both women were in separate cars in a queue of traffic waiting to overtake a slow-moving lorry, she told the jury.
Miss Stone described how she looked in her mirror and pulled out to pass the truck but was suddenly aware of a another vehicle scraping against her car.
To her horror, she realised it was her sister who was attempting to overtake the lorry from further back in the line of traffic.
The jury heard how the lorry and the sisters’ two cars were three abreast across the single carriageway road before Jennie’s Peugeot clipped a crash barrier, went out-of-control and hit a tree.
She died at the scene.
Miss Stone’s family, including her parents and her surviving three brothers, were in court throughout the trial to support her.
They were all wearing red jackets given to the family by her brother’s colleagues in Burma Company to remember him.
Miss Stone, who is a betting shop relief manager, denied the one charge she faced.