Mismatched tyres ‘could have caused fatal smash’

Published: 01 February 2012

A motorist who span across the road killing a biker could not be tried for careless driving because her tyres were mismatched, according to the Crown Prosecution Service. 

The CPS says there was no point proceeding with the charge because it could not be proved the crash wasn’t caused by the tyres, which were legal but not recommended by the car manufacturer.

Motorcyclist Andrew Wilson-Jones, 36, from Deeside, North Wales, was on his way home when 24-year-old Rachel Roberts span across the road in an MG sports car and collided with him head-on on the A495 in Shropshire in June 2010. 

Roberts was driving her brother’s MG TF without insurance and had just overtaken before the crash.

One of the car’s front tyres was the type originally fitted to the model as standard. The other was a later version from the same tyre manufacturer. The two Goodyear tyres are not recommended for use together on the car.

In a letter to the victim’s mother, Judith Jones, the Crown Prosecution Service argues: ‘The key issue in this case relates to the tyres fitted to the vehicle driven by the defendant.

‘The careless driving case against her was not proceeded with because the failure of the tyres could not be ruled out as an operative cause of the loss of control of the vehicle.’

The letter adds: ‘It could not be proved to the standard required in a criminal trial that the mix of tyres fitted to the MG did not cause loss of control.’

Mrs Jones, 63, said: “Even the police have told us that if it had been a guy in a car with a child in the back seat and she’d crushed the car, or a bus stop full of people, or a zebra crossing, and she’d spun 360 degrees, it would have been different. If she said ‘Oops, I think the tyres are wrong’ – it wouldn’t work, would it?”

Roberts, from Brymbo in North Wales, admitted a less serious charge of causing death by driving uninsured at Shrewsbury Crown Court following the prosecution’s decision that careless driving could not be proved.

She was banned from driving for a year and ordered to do 100 hours’ unpaid community work and pay £600 costs. 

Mrs Jones has since corresponded with the CPS over whether Roberts could be recharged following the trial in June last year.

But the letter, from the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the West Midlands and dated January 27 2012, rejects the notion.

It says: ‘I note that in previous correspondence the question of reinstatement of the prosecution was considered and various comments made upon this.

‘I am afraid that in so far as that issue is concerned my colleagues misdirected themselves as to the powers available and thus inadvertently misled you…

‘Mrs Roberts could not be tried again for any criminal offence based on the same or substantially the same facts.’

Read more in next week's MCN.