‘Aggressive driving’ led to three deaths

Lauren Birkett, one victim of the Mexborough triple death crash.
Lauren Birkett, one victim of the Mexborough triple death crash.
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A HORRIFIC road smash which killed three teenagers in a South Yorkshire village was caused by ‘aggressive’ driving, a coroner has ruled.

Jonathan Scott, aged 17, and passengers Robert Tepper, also 17, and Lauren Birkett, 16, died after he lost control of his souped-up Vauxhall Corsa and skidded into an oncoming car near Sticking Hill, Mexborough, an inquest heard.

Doncaster coroner Nicola Munday said the evidence given by three teenagers involved in ‘aggressive driving’ in the minutes before the smash, was ‘lacking in credibility’.

She added the evidence of drivers, Daniel Cotton and Daniel Cousins, and their passengers was ‘self serving and supporting of the individuals closest to them’.

She recorded verdicts that Robert, of Stenson Terrace, and Lauren of Linwood Drive, both Mexborough, died because they were ‘passengers in a vehicle which was driven in a manner that exposed them to risk of serious injury or death and a collision occurred from which they died’.

She added there was insufficient evidence to prove Robert and Lauren’s deaths were due to dangerous driving.

Ms Mundy recorded a verdict that Jonathan, of Park Road, Conisbrough, died accidentally.

The court heard on the night of the smash on December 27 2010, Jonathan was driving his Corsa along Adwick Road, when he lost control just after it followed a Vauxhall Astra - being driven by Daniel Cotton in overtaking a Fiat Punto, being driven by Daniel Cousins.

Ms Munday said the driving from Mexborough town centre onto Adwick Road had ‘developed into competitive and aggressive driving’.

She rejected their evidence that they were driving within the 30mph speed limit adding she believed Mr Cotton was also involved in the competitive driving.

The hearing, which resumed after being adjourned last week, also heard from pedestrians on Adwick Road.

They said the cars were driving so close together it looked as if they were ‘tied by a piece of string’.

A police expert said Jonathan Scott’s Corsa had a two-litre engine instead of the standard 1.2 litre engine.

It also had bigger brakes fitted which made it more prone to skidding under sudden braking.

The court heard the Astra overtook the Punto first and Ms Mundy said she was satisfied the Corsa also passed it but was too close to the bend and was travelling over the 50mph speed limit.

She said touching the brakes caused the back of the car to rotate, causing loss of control.

n Daniel Cotton will appear at Doncaster Magistrates Court next week charged with dangerous driving.