Slinfold crash: Teenager cleared of causing two deaths

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William Richardson and Asa CaudillImage source, Sussex Police
Image caption,
William Richardson and Asa Caudill both died following the crash in Slinfold

A teenager has been found not guilty of causing the death by dangerous driving of two other young men in a car crash in West Sussex.

Brett Hewson, 19, of Coombe Hill, Billingshurst was cleared of causing the deaths of William Richardson, 18, and Asa Caudill, 19, on 5 July 2013.

He was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of dangerous driving and banned for 12 months and fined £250.

He was told to take an extended driving test before getting his licence back.

Mr Richardson, from Slinfold, died at the scene when the Peugeot 306 he was driving hit a tree on the A264, in Slinfold, near Horsham.

His passenger, Mr Caudill, from Billingshurst, died in St George's Hospital in Tooting, south London the next day.

Two other passengers, an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl, suffered less serious injuries.

Image source, Eddie Mitchell
Image caption,
The two cars had been racing at speed on the A29 and A264, Sussex Police said

Sussex Police said the prosecution argued Hewson and Mr Richardson were racing their two cars on the public roads after leaving the Billingshurst area together. Hewson was driving an Opel Astra.

Both cars had been travelling at speed, up the A29 and then down the A264 towards Slinfold, police said.

Witness testimony highlighted excessive speed and dangerous overtaking manoeuvres, two of which almost resulted in head-on collisions, they said.

"There are absolutely no winners in this case," said Sgt Alan Spicer, from Sussex Police.

"A community has been devastated by the deaths of two popular young men who had their lives ahead of them, and I doubt their families will ever come to terms with their loss.

"This case should serve as a reminder that driving which may seem to be a bit of a laugh at the time can have devastating consequences, and has no place on the roads."

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