Driver in fatal high-speed crash had been drinking

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The mother of a teenage girl who was killed in a high-speed crash wept as an inquest was told the driver was unqualified and had been drinking.

Jessica Harris, 17, got into a car with Dean Pinchbeck at 11pm on St Valentine’s Day this year outside her grandparent’s house in Wakefield.

The 21-year-old had been drinking with friends earlier that evening and when they went to the pub, he took one of their cars without permission, Wakefield Coroner’s Court was told yesterday. He then picked up Jessica and another driver, Jody Lee Squires, described how she saw him lying back in his seat and driving so close to her car that she could not see his headlights.

At midnight, he was driving at a speed of at least 60mph in a 40mph zone and lost control around a blind corner.

The red Volkswagen Golf he was driving, which belonged to his friend William Cook, collided with a Transit van on the opposite side of the road.

He and Jessica both died in the collision and it left the other driver, Paul Johnson, with significant injuries.

The tragic youngsters died from multiple injuries in the early hours of February 15.

Dean Pinchbeck had alcohol in his system but a toxicologist could not say for sure that he was over the drink-drive limit, the inquest was told.

Art student Jessica, who has left behind two brothers and a sister, had known him for some time but friends told the inquest they thought the pair were just friends.

Her mother Jenny Howden, 38, said after the accident: “She didn’t know him that well but she was a sensible girl and had she known he couldn’t drive, she would have never even dared.

“She was in her pyjamas, staying at my mum and dad’s house, a car pulled up and she said she was going to talk to her friend.

“She got dressed and went out and the next thing my dad saw them going out of the end of the street.

“I have put it through my head 50,000 times, why did she get into that car?

“We have been robbed, she had her life taken away – at 17 she hadn’t even started.

“The last time I ever saw her she was wearing a peach coloured dress and I thought to myself ‘You look beautiful’ but I never actually said it to her.

“If only I could say it now, not that it would change anything, but you just ask yourself – why didn’t you say it when you had the chance?”

Mrs Howden, who found out that she was pregnant with her fifth child a fortnight before her daughter was killed, told the inquest that her daughter was learning to drive herself and had a promising future.

She achieved numerous A stars in her GCSEs and was at art college in Dewsbury.

She said: “She was a lovely outgoing girl with lots of friends. She was very talkative and was always singing away.

“She had a real interest in motor racing and would go to track days with her dad and brother.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Melanie Williamson, told the bereaved families: “Both had their whole lives ahead of them and to be taken that day really is awful.

“I am truly sorry that each one of you has to be present in this court today.”