Hampshire teenager, 19, cleared of dangerous driving after causing two motorcyclists' deaths
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Portsmouth Crown Court jurors today cleared Joshua Kempster, 19, after a trial over the deaths of engineer Andrew Cuthbert, 58, of Bishop’s Waltham, and Gary Groves, 62, of Southampton.
But he still faces punishment after previously admitting the two lesser charges of causing death by careless driving following the crash on the B3035 Corhampton Lane on February 2, 2020.
During the four-day trial Kempster denied driving his Ford Fiesta Zetec ‘dangerously’ by overtaking on a blind righthand bend before swerving back left into a Kia causing both vehicles to spin.
Both Mr Cuthbert and Mr Groves had no chance to avoid the crash, with the Kia exploding in a fireball engulfing one rider while the other motorcyclist slammed into a fence.
When Kempster gave evidence he insisted he was not a boy racer but was distracted by a BMW 3 Series being driven by Martin Gardener at speed behind him.
Nick Tucker, his barrister said: ‘You drove carelessly because you had been distracted by the BMW behind you because you had looked in your mirror for too long.
‘The prosecution say you pulled out to overtake on a blind bend. Did you?
‘No,’ said Kempster, who it was revealed had passed his test just four months before the fatal crash.
Mr Gardener told jurors he exceeded the 40mph speed limit in a bid to catch up to Kempster’s vehicle after being overtaken by the teenager.
‘In my experience as I drive around people have a tendency to slow down in front of my car because it looks like an unmarked police car,’ he said.
‘My idea of slowing him down didn’t (work), it didn’t slow him down.
‘I lost eyesight of the vehicle… He was going faster than I was comfortable to go. I eased back.’
The jury heard how Kempster had been driving home with a friend in his £6,500 car on the afternoon of the crash.
Judge Tim Mousley QC adjourned the case for Kempster to be sentenced on August 19.
The teenager, of Church Lane, West Meon, was bailed ahead of the next hearing.
Following his death Mr Cuthbert’s mother Mary said: ‘Andy was an absolutely wonderful person.
‘He worked all his life, taking overtime whenever he could, and was such a kind man – he always made time to see me, take me to lunch and so on.’