Four young people killed in 140mph ‘fast and furious’ road race tragedy in West Yorkshire

The four friends were killed on the A6201 between Upton and Hemsworth near Pontefract in a quad bike accident.
The four friends were killed on the A6201 between Upton and Hemsworth near Pontefract in a quad bike accident.

Four young people died when the quad bike they were on was hit by a car travelling at 140mph as vehicles raced along a bypass in scenes likened to the film The Fast And The Furious, a Leeds jury has been told.

Ryan Beal, 20, Brandon Brown, 20, Alexandra Binns, 18, and Terrie Kirby, 16, were out celebrating Miss Kirby’s birthday when the quad bike they were riding on was devastated by a Nissan 350Z travelling in the same direction, Leeds Crown Court was told earlier today.

Kama Melly QC , prosecuting, said the bronze Nissan was taking part in high speed racing involving a number of people and several vehicles on the A6201 Hemsworth bypass when the crash happened on September 27, 2015.

Miss Melly said two groups of people had travelled from Wakefield and Barnsley to use the stretch of road for racing as spectators watched from the sides of the road and a railway bridge.

Opening a trial of five people accused of encouraging dangerous driving, the prosecutor said that analysis of the Nissan’s satnav showed it was doing 140mph at the time of the impact with the quad bike and had reached 144mph on previous runs along the single carriageway road.

Reading the accounts of a number of motorists who witnessed cars racing earlier that night, Miss Melly told the jury that one witness remembered “seeing headlights come up in her mirror travelling towards her really fast.

She experienced one car driving past her followed immediately by another.

“She estimated that they were doing speeds of 100mph.”

Another person in the same car said “that the scene was something like out of the film The Fast And The Furious.”

George Tomlinson, 25, of Hall Croft, Netherton, Wakefield; Nathan Jackson, 21, of Higham Common, Barnsley; Stephen Hebden, 23, of Dodworth Road, Barnsley; Lee Fisher, 29, of Pond Street, Barnsley and Bradley Lockwood, 22, of Rotherham Road, Barnsley, all deny one count of encouraging and assisting in the commission of a dangerous driving offence.

The jury heard that the driver of the Nissan, Daniel Raynor, and his front seat passenger, Matthew Todd, have admitted charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Miss Melly said another witness told police a vehicle that came past him was “flying”.

“It made the car shake, like when a wagon goes past on the motorway.”

Miss Melly said Todd’s phone was found to be running a stopwatch app which showed a time of one minute 38 seconds.

She said this was found to have been clocked five minutes before the crash.

“Investigations into the satellite navigation system in Raynor’s car showed that it had been driving high-speed runs,” the prosecutor said.

“The speed at the time of the collision was over 140mph.

“As we told you at the outset, the driving at the time of the collision was not an isolated episode of bad driving.

“Further investigation into the sat nav showed that it had done five high speed runs prior to the fatal collision and had reached a speed of 144mph on a previous run.”

The prosecutor said it was the not the purpose of the trial to determine responsibility for the crash itself.

She said the police investigation found the quad bike had no rear lights.

“It is right to say that other road users were very concerned by the quad bike on the road and the manner in which it was being driven earlier that night,” Miss Melly said.

“Those drivers were able through careful driving and more appropriate speeds to avoid colliding with the quad bike.”

The prosecutor also said: “We are not saying that these defendants specifically encouraged that particular piece of driving that caused the deaths of the four on the quad bike.

“It is the Crown’s case that the defendants’ presence encouraged the dangerous driving that occurred over the course of the evening.”

She said: “These defendants went to this bypass for this very reason, indeed what other reason is there for being on an unlit lay-by, on a railway bridge late on an autumn evening?

“They went knowing what they would see and participate in and went knowing that a group of supporters and enthusiasts being present would encourage the dangerous driving that did occur.”

Miss Melly said all the defendants except Fisher admitted being at the scene, although denied they were encouraging dangerous driving.

She said Fisher denied being there and said in a statement that “he did go driving that night but only to relax after work”.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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