‘Car race’ ended in death of three teenagers

FROM FACEBOOK via SHEFFIELD STAR.......  'Robert Tepper and Jono Scott two of the three teenagers who died on Adwick Road, Mexborough South Yorkshire 'See story Jeni Harvey  COPIED by Chris Lawton 29  Dec 2010
FROM FACEBOOK via SHEFFIELD STAR....... 'Robert Tepper and Jono Scott two of the three teenagers who died on Adwick Road, Mexborough South Yorkshire 'See story Jeni Harvey COPIED by Chris Lawton 29 Dec 2010
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A TEENAGE car fanatic and his two passengers died after his souped-up Vauxhall Corsa went too fast round a bend.

Jono Scott, 17, had been racing bumper to bumper with two other cars before the fatal crash in South Yorkshire, an inquest heard.

An accident investigator said powerful rear disc brakes which had been fitted contributed to the accident when they locked, causing the car to spin.

It ploughed head-on into a VW Golf coming the other way and skidded before coming to rest on Adwick Road in Mexborough.

Corsa driver Jono and his passengers Bobby Tepper, 17, and his girlfriend Lauren Birkett, 16, all died in the crash on the evening of December 27, 2010.

The Corsa collided with the Golf while speeding after a Vauxhall Astra driven by Mr Scott’s friend Danny Cotton, which had just overtaken a Fiat Punto.

Lewis Thompson told the hearing his friend George Bentham, who was in the Astra, rang him to say the cars had been racing.

He said the Astra overtook Danny Cousins, driving the Punto. When Jono tried to overtake, Mr Cousins “speeded up” so Jono could not get back onto the right side of the road before hitting the Golf.

An inquest in Doncaster heard Mr Cotton, 19, from Mexborough, will shortly appear in a criminal court charged with dangerous driving. He was given a public order notice two months previously for causing a nuisance by racing on the roads.

Accident investigator PC Andrew Bassendale calculated the Corsa would have been travelling at least at 59 mph on a 50mph limit road.

He said the Corsa originally had a 1200cc engine but it had been replaced with a two-litre engine, doubling the horsepower to 130. Large disc brakes had been fitted at the back instead of drum brakes. He believed the crash happened when the rear brakes locked.

PC Bassendale said: “Because the rear brakes were stronger than they should have been it contributed to the car rotating and going out of control.”

Eyewitness to the smash, Andrew Newton, said he saw the Fiat followed by the Astra and then the Corsa. He said: “They were bumper to bumper and were probably travelling at 50mph in a 30mph limit. They were close together. They seemed as if they were racing each other.”

Michael Brooks, a lorry driver, described how the cars were travelling “so close they looked as if they were towing each other.”

But the two other drivers involved in the incident both denied they had been racing when they were asked by the coroner Nicola Mundy.

Danny Cousins said he noticed the Astra “tailgating” him in Mexborough but did not really see the Corsa until the accident.

He accelerated up to 50mph as the speed limit went from 30 to 50 mph and let the Astra overtake.

He said: “I didn’t realise until the Corsa was at the side of me then it was overtaking me.

“It got back in safely then as he got to the corner his back end just slid out.”

Danny Cotton said none of the three cars were “tailgating” and said he “did not mean” a statement he gave to police that the Punto had been driving “too fast” before they reached Adwick Road.

Student Charmaine Wall, a passenger in the Astra, said in a police statement that the boys liked “egging each other on” and “Jono was a bit of a show off with his car.”

Steelworker Kieron Bailey, also in the Astra, said they overtook the Punto with the Corsa behind. He said: “We were looking to see if Jono came and he started overtaking as Danny Cousins put his foot down and wouldn’t let Jono in. It was as if Cousins wouldn’t let him get past.”

Pathologist Suzanne Rogers said student Lauren Birkett died of head injuries, Jono Scott, an apprentice mechanic, had multiple injuries and apprentice plumber Bobby Tepper died from chest injuries.

Jono’s girlfriend Chloe Newby, 16, was the only survivor from the wrecked Corsa but suffered brain injuries.

The inquest was adjourned until next week.