Unlawful killing verdict in double death crash

Tributes after the crash
Tributes after the crash

A man who died in a fatal road smash which claimed two lives was unlawfully killed, an inquest heard.

Michael Hudson, 19, was killed when the car he was travelling in with friends Ben Brearcliffe and William Naylor crashed into a lamppost on February 7, 2014.

Calderdale Coroners Court heard that Mr Brearcliffe, 20, was driving the Volkswagen Golf GTi car in a “criminally dangerous” way on the A629 Ovenden Road, Halifax.

Mr Hudson, of Queensbury, was a front seat passenger when the car smashed sideways into a lamppost, before crossing over into the carriageway.

Mr Brearcliffe, also of Queensbury, died from injuries sustained in the incident.

PC Martin Wood told the court that an investigation into the incident found the car would have been travelling at a “conservative minimum” of 72mph - nearly twice the legal speed limit for the road - when it crashed.

One witness who had seen the car before the incident said “it was obvious it had been racing” with another car - an Astra VXR.

He spoke of how both cars had gone through the lights at the Shroggs Road junction when they were at red and then took the corner at an unsafe speed.

A statement from passenger William Naylor told how Mr Brearcliffe began to follow the Astra VXR from Halifax town centre.

He said: “The Astra went through the lights at red so Ben followed and we followed the Astra up the road. It was just to keep up with it. I know what Ben was doing - he was having a laugh.”

The driver of the Astra, Dennis Roose, of Mixenden, Halifax, was jailed for 13 months in January at Bradford Crown Court for dangerous driving.

But summing up Coroner Oliver Longstaff said: “What is clear is that both vehicles were being driven in a wholly innapropriate manner in the situation they were being driven.

“I am satisfied by reasonable doubt by Roose’s conviction for dangerous driving. There was a passenger in Ben’s car who died. They were friends. It is a tragedy.

“Ben’s driving was to criminally dangerous standards. Had Ben survived the incident it is inconceivable he would not have been charged with death by dangerous driving.”

He recorded a verdict of death by unlawful killing for Mr Hudson and a verdict of death due to road traffic collision on Mr Brearcliffe.

He added: “There is so much to remember about them. I hope that over time and with processes such as this it will become easier to remember those times.”