Teenage motorist Aaron Baker, who had been accused of causing a double fatal crash on Good Friday last year, was this afternoon (Wednesday August 26) cleared by a jury at Lincoln Crown Court.
The jury of eight men and four women spent three hours deliberating before returning not guilty verdicts.
Aaron Baker,18, of Steeping Court, Lincoln, had denied two charges of causing death by careless driving following the fatal collision on the A1104 at Snape Hill near Alford on April 18, 2014.
During the three day trial Baker admitted that he only had one hand on the steering wheel when the head-on collision occurred and accepted that meant his driving was careless.
But he told the jury that his driving was not the cause of the accident.
Aaron Baker’s friend Matthew Ellis, 16, who was a passenger in his car died as a result of the collision and Mablethorpe woman Jean Thomas, 70, a passenger in the oncoming car was also killed.
Baker and two of his passengers were seriously injured as were Alan Thomas, the husband of Mrs Thomas, together with his daughter Dawn and her son.
Baker said could recall nothing after his Vauxhall Corsa went onto the nearside verge.
He told the jury “I don’t recall the events leading up to the crash. All I can remember is the car going onto the verge and a bright white light and I was cut out of the car. I can’t remember why the car left the carriageway.”
The prosecution claimed that Baker lost control of his vehicle due to carelessness and after going onto the verge he over-corrected the steering sending his car into the opposite lane colliding head-on with an oncoming car.
Baker said he was driving with only one hand on the steering wheel because “it felt comfortable” but under cross-examination he admitted he would have failed his driving test if he had steered using just one hand.
He added: “I admit I was driving carelessly but I don’t think it was my fault fully.”
Baker denied he did not have enough sleep on the previous evening and when asked about a post he put on Facebook claiming he only had four hours sleep he replied “It wasn’t true. It was a childish macho thing that I truly regret. I wasn’t tired.”
He said he actually had six hours sleep and felt refreshed after a shower and breakfast before setting off with his friends for a day out at the coast.
Baker told the jury that he felt “gutted” that two people had died in the collision. He said “Its depressing thinking about it to this day.”
He said he was seriously injured himself in the collision and later underwent 14 hours of surgery before spending a week in intensive care at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. He suffered fractures to his leg, femur, jaw and collarbone as well as damage to his right eye.
The jury heard that Baker passed his driving test on 31 January 2014, just 11 weeks before the collision, and had also attained his “Pass Plus” award. He had a black box fitted to his vehicle which recorded his journeys and speed. Analysis showed he consistently drove well below the speed limit and friends regarded him as a safe driver.
His barrister Giles Bedloe told the jury “This was an absolutely tragic convolution of circumstances. The real question was why Mr Baker’s car left the carriageway. Only if you are sure that it left the carriageway because of a lack of attention on his part do you return a verdict of guilty.”
Afterwards the family of Matthew Ellis, who lived in Bunkers Hill, Lincoln, issued a statement saying “After 16 months since this tragic accident, we now fully understand the full details of how events unfolded on April 18, 2014. These answers, I believe, will help our family and friends start to come to terms with the huge loss of Matt.
“I would like to thank all our family and close friends of Matt who have supported us with courageous strength during these difficult days
“Matty is loved so much within many circles and is sadly missed every day. However, we take much comfort in knowing what a kind, loving, caring, successful young man he was and will always be remembered forever.
“Thanks to Lincolnshire Police and the CPS for their incredible support and professionalism in presenting the true facts of what happened on April 18.
“We now request time to reflect on this outcome.”
The Thomas family, reacting to the trial, said: “We can’t come to terms with what has happened. Jean leaves behind her husband of 52 years, three sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren, and her loss has decimated our family.
“Her daughter, Dawn, who was a passenger in the car that day, suffered very serious injuries. She spent seven weeks in hospital and had to be brought from her hospital bed for her mum’s funeral.
“She still faces numerous ongoing operations and has lost her sparkle. Grandson, Jo, who was only 10 at the time of the crash, has been left emotionally scarred.
“It has been particularly hard for another of the grandchildren, whose birthday was that day. She no longer celebrates her birthday because of the terrible reminder.
“Jean was a lovely bubbly person who loved everybody. She knew everyone in Mablethorpe and everyone knew her. She was the backbone of the family and losing her tore us to bits.
“We would like to thank the air ambulances from a number of counties for everything they did that day.”