A TEENAGE hockey player has been cleared of causing a much-loved great-grandmother’s death by careless driving.
Lydia Presley was 17 when her Renault Clio crashed with Pauline Preston’s Ford Fusion in Greetland Road, Barkisland, last May.
The 66-year-old, of Savile Park, Halifax, later died in hospital.
A judge yesterday said Miss Presley, of Pickwood Scar, Norland, was driving in a responsible manner - but on a road that would have been dangerous to even an accomplished driver.
The 19-year-old had been due to stand trial, but prosecutors offered no evidence and a not guilty verdict was returned. Miss Presley sobbed and was comforted by her parents as she left the dock.
Prosecutor Mehran Nassiri had been told two pieces of evidence the case hinged upon were inadmissible before the jury could be sworn in.
A phone record showed activity from her mobile between 8.53pm and 10pm on the night of the crash - which was reported to emergency services at 9.13pm.
This was only noted the night before the trial.
Jeremy Lindsay, defending, said it was now impossible to know whether a call had been made or the phone was just emitting a GPRS signal.
He noted similar activity was logged for five hours from 2.25am the next morning, when Miss Presley lay hurt in hospital.
Comments made by her 17-year-old passenger William Morrison, of Stainland, minutes after the crash, were also ruled inadmissible.
Judge Jonathan Rose said the young man, who suffered a fractured hip and leg, would have been in fear, confusion and pain.
Miss Presley, a former Hipperholme Grammar School pupil and member of Halifax Ladies’ hockey club, had been driving just a month when the accident happened.
She suffered serious leg and pelvis injuries and had to be cut from the overturned Clio.
Judge Rose said: “There was some misjudgement in the driving of this car by Miss Presley but that falls short of what the law regards as criminally responsible.”
He noted the accident site was a notorious blackspot and called for better signposting.
Mrs Preston, who was driving home from a meal with family at The Fleece, Barkisland, when tragedy struck, leaves two daughters, five grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Judge Rose said: “Mrs Preston was a deeply loved woman and deeply valued by her friends, family and the society she had been part of for a great many years.
“I can do no more than offer the most sincere condolences of the court to her family.”