Couple sold written-off car before death crash killed three women

Scene  of the road traffic accident in Front Street, Shotton Colliery which claimed the lives of three people.
Scene of the road traffic accident in Front Street, Shotton Colliery which claimed the lives of three people.

A COUPLE pleaded guilty to the illegal sale of a written-off car that was later involved in a horrific crash which killed three women.

Ralph Brown and Anne Stidwell admitted to fraud relating to false representation regarding the sale of the Fiat 500 car, which was being driven by 19-year-old Rebecca Learoyd when it was involved in the smash caused by death driver Jak Parker.

But, Durham Crown Court heard how its condition was not a factor in the accident in Front Street, Shotton Colliery, in 2013.

It was said Brown and Stidwell sold the car to Ms Learoyd’s parents after they spotted it advertised on a website.

The court heard how when they went to inspect the vehicle they were told it was in “mint condition”.

But, it had previously been damaged to such an extent it should not have been allowed to return to the road.

Prosecutor Simon Reevell said: “The case came to light because there was a road traffic accident. In terms of culpability, the condition of the car was not relevant to the accident that took place.

“If the vehicle had been a new vehicle, it would not have made a difference. It was not a factor.”

The couple, both of Leesfield Drive, Meadowfield, near Durham City, also pleaded guilty to false representation in relation to the sale of a second car to another buyer in 2013.

Caroline Goodwin, mitigating, said Brown, 58, and Stidwell, 56, regretted what had happened and expressed their sympathy for the families of those who died in the accident.

“This is a sad and tragic case,” she said.

“They have expressed their deepest sympathies to the families of the victims.”

Judge Christopher Prince, who adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports until January 23, said the couple had caused “needless expense” to the public by waiting until the day of the hearing to enter their guilty pleas.

Parker, 24, was jailed for 12-and-a-half years for causing the fatal crash.

Teesside Crown Court was told how he overtook the Fiat 500 at speed in his MG ZR car.

The Fiat subsequently collided with a Citroen Xsara.

Two people in the Fiat, driver Ms Learoyd and passenger Megan Robinson, 19, both from Thornley, died from their injuries.

Also killed was the driver of the Citroen, Anne Peachey, 60, who lived in Sherburn Hill. Parker, of Crimdon Terrace, Blackhall Colliery, admitted three charges of causing death by dangerous driving.