THE driver of the car in which tragic teenager Lucy Commins died when he pulled out in front of two speeding cars racing each other has been convicted of causing her death.
Ross Clark had pleaded not guilty to causing 16-year-old Lucy’s death by careless driving and failing to provide a blood sample.
But a jury at Warwick Crown Court took just an hour and nine minutes to find him guilty by a unanimous verdict.
The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report on Clark (38) who was living locally at the time but now resides in Seven Oaks, Kent.
Rejecting an application for bail and remanding him in custody, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano commented: “He has fought this trial in the face of overwhelming evidence.
“I take the view there are substantial grounds to believe the defendant would be likely to fail to attend for his sentence. Frankly, this family has been through enough.”
The court had heard that in February last year Lucy, from Bedworth, and a friend, Taylor Hall, had been out celebrating on the day before Taylor’s 17th birthday, and it was obvious they had a lot to drink.
They went to the Craven Arms pub in Coventry where Clark was also drinking with someone who knew Taylor’s mother.
At about 11pm Clark left the pub with the two girls in the back of his Mercedes CLK to get some cigarettes from a nearby service station.
But on their way back Clark had to make a right turn onto the Ansty Road dual carriageway – and turned into the path of two cars, a VW Golf and a Fiesta, which were racing each-other along Ansty Road at 70-75mph.
The Fiesta driver managed to swerve round it, but the Golf ploughed into the side of the Mercedes, killing Lucy and badly injuring Clark, who still walks with crutches, and Taylor.
Witnesses who rushed to the scene described Clark as smelling of drink, said prosecutor Mark Loram.
He was taken to hospital with injuries including a badly fractured pelvis and was given doses of morphine.
At the hospital Pc Abbi Jones, who also described him as smelling of drink, asked if he would provide a blood sample for analysis, and he eventually refused.
Clark, who made no comment to the police and claims he cannot remember anything about the crash, did not give evidence during the trial.
According to expert Robert Seston, there was just 1.2 seconds between Clark setting off from the junction and the impact.
He would have had a clear view for 3.8 seconds of the racing cars undertaking another car and then approaching side-by side at high speed before he made ‘the tragic decision to turn across three lanes of traffic.’
James Hasslacher, defending, argued: “This is a tragic, tragic case; but I am asking you to take emotion out of this and to be fair. He is entitled to sit in the dock and say ‘prove the case against me.’
After the jury returned their verdict, the judge indicated that the starting point for sentencing was a prison term of between four and six years.
In November last year Golf driver Sean Sparkes (33) of Nuneaton Road, Bulkington, was jailed for six-and-a-half years, and Fiesta driver Reece Jones (24) of Attoxhall Road, Coventry, for a total of eight years and nine months after they had both admitted causing Lucy’s death by dangerous driving.