THE Crown Prosecution Service has defended its decision to prosecute a young woman after she was cleared of causing the death of her sister in a car crash months after their brother was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Rosie-Ann Stone, 21, was found not guilty of causing the death of Jennie Stone, 28, by careless driving by a jury at Hull Crown Court after less than three hours deliberating.
The sisters’ family have campaigned against the prosecution saying they had suffered enough following the death of Private Gregg Stone, of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, who was shot while on active service in June 2012, and then the death of Jennie last year.
TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson even waded into the debate, expressing his concern for the family in a newspaper column.
And the trial judge also expressed his doubts about the wisdom of the prosecution.
In remarks made before the trial began, Judge Simon Jack said he “had some doubts” about whether it was in the public interest to prosecute Miss Stone.
He added: “But that’s not my decision.”
Judge Jack is reported to have repeated these concerns after the verdict.
In a statement, Jonathan Sharp, the Principal Crown Advocate CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, who prosecuted the case in court, 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 Rosie-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.”
The women were in separate cars in a queue of traffic waiting to overtake a slow-moving lorry on the A165 near the village of Fraisthorpe last February.
Miss Stone told the jury how she looked in her mirror and pulled out to pass the truck but was suddenly aware of another vehicle scraping against her car.
To her horror, she realised it was her sister who was also 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.
When the foreman gave the not guilty verdict there were shouts of “yes” from the public gallery and the young woman’s parents wept with their heads in their hands.
Miss Stone was also in tears.
When she was released from the dock she ran into the arms of a family member before being led outside.
Her parents quietly said “thank you” to the court and Mr Stone bowed deeply towards the well of the court and repeated the words “thank you” again before leaving.
None of the family were available for comment after the five-day trial.