Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Family's fury at 'inhuman' CPS after girl who lost her brother in war is cleared of killing her sister in crash

A woman was cleared of blame yesterday over her sister’s tragic death in a car crash as the Crown Prosecution Service was criticised for heartlessly pursuing the case.

Rosie-Ann Stone, 21, was overtaking a lorry when she collided with her elder sibling Jennie’s car, which was carrying out the same manoeuvre – sending it crashing into a tree.

Months earlier, the women had lost their brother Gregg, a 20-year-old soldier who was shot dead while serving in Afghanistan.

Their father Robert Stone, 56, arrived at the scene of the accident and cried: ‘Not again, no, not another child.’

Prosecutors insisted on charging Rosie-Ann with causing death by careless driving, despite the family’s suffering and doubt as to who was to blame.

The decision enraged the family and was even questioned by the judge at the five-day trial, which cost an estimated £100,000.

Speaking before the hearing, at which jurors took less than three hours to clear Rosie-Ann, Mr Stone said: ‘We begged the Crown Prosecution Service not to bring this charge, but they seem to have their own agenda.

'We wondered if they are human. I know Jennie is up there now and she would not have wanted Rosie-Ann to be prosecuted.’

There were emotional scenes at Hull Crown Court as the jury foreman delivered the verdict. The defendant and her parents wept as other family members shouted ‘yes’.

Moments later, Rosie-Ann was released from the dock and embraced her three brothers, before being led away without commenting.

Mr Stone said: ‘As the verdict came in my heart was pumping. I thought it was going to burst.’

Judge Simon Jack distanced himself from the controversial decision to take the matter to court by telling the jury: ‘Before the start of the case I expressed concern with the Crown Prosecution Service that it was not in the public interest to have a trial.

‘The CPS was consistently saying that it was. It was their decision not mine.’

Rosie-Ann was charged because she failed to look over her shoulder before pulling out to overtake a slow-moving lorry last February.

She said she had checked in her mirror and indicated before the accident on the A165 near Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

The court heard she had spent the day with Jennie, 28 – the mother of a 10-year-old boy – and did not realise she was in her Peugeot three cars back in the same queue.

Jennie tried to overtake the line of vehicles at the same time – driving at up to 70mph, according to one witness – and colliding with her younger sister in the process.

Rosie-Ann, a manager at a bookmaker’s, told the court of the moment she realised her sister’s blue car was next to hers. ‘I saw blue to the right and I saw Jennie driving. I saw her blonde hair. I twigged almost instantly.

‘Jennie did not turn and look at me. Not at all. Jennie’s car was moving faster than mine. The two cars struck. Jennie’s car instantly shot across the road. I thought the truck was going to hit her. I saw Jennie’s car go on to the grass and strike the tree.’

Rosie-Ann stopped her car and screamed: ‘Jennie, Jennie what have you done it for? I didn’t see you! What have you done it for?’

She said: ‘I wanted to get to Jennie. I saw her in the car. I was screaming. I tried to go near her. I wanted to be with Jennie. Nobody was with her, she was on her own.’

The defendant said her sister, a student, was a ‘fast driver’ and she had witnessed a previous accident when Jennie was at fault.

Rosie-Ann told police: ‘In my opinion she was a very quick driver and did take a lot of risks. I never felt comfortable with it. I refused to let her drive my car.’

Their mother Angie Stone, 56, confirmed that Jennie drove ‘fast and erratically’ while Rosie-Ann was a ‘safe and careful driver.’

After the case Paul Genney, a senior barrister based in Hull, said: ‘I think the decision to prosecute was indefensible. ‘What could you possibly do to her on top of what she has had to suffer? To kill your own sister – there is nothing worse in the world.

‘What is the point of spending five days of public money on a prosecution at taxpayers’ expense?’

Jonathan Sharp, the senior CPS advocate in the region, said all the evidence was ‘carefully considered’ and it was ‘a very difficult decision’ to prosecute.

Original report here




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