Couple admit crash car in which three died was a ‘write’off’

CRASH DEATHS: Rebecca Learoyd, Megan Robinson and Anne Peachey.
CRASH DEATHS: Rebecca Learoyd, Megan Robinson and Anne Peachey.
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A DISHONEST couple duped the family of a teenager into buying a written-off car in which she was later killed.

Rebecca Learoyd, 18, died with her best friend Megan Robinson, 19, when Rebecca’s Fiat 500 crashed into a car driven by Anne Peachey, 60, in Shotton Colliery, in June, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard Ralph Brown and Anne Stidwell earlier sold the Fiat to Rebecca’s parents claiming it was “mint”.

“The couple had a legitimate business called Durham Recycling Services,” said Simon Reevell, prosecuting. “It dealt in written-off cars. The car bought by Mrs Learoyd for her daughter was a Category B write-off.

“Under industry regulations it should have been used only for spares, although it is not in itself illegal to repair a Category B car.

“The car’s suspension had been repaired.

“An engineer found the repair had been done to a poor standard, but the repair would not have contributed to a driver losing control.”

The court was told Brown and Stidwell re-registered the car to themselves to make it look like a private sale.

They told Mrs Learoyd it was their daughter’s car which she was selling to buy something bigger.

“The couple paid £1,366 for the car and sold it to Mrs Learoyd for £4,850,” said Mr Reevell.

Brown, 58, and Stidwell, 56, both of Leasefield Drive, Meadowfield, Durham City, both admitted fraud.

Caroline Goodwin, defending, said: “Both are of previous good character. Full financial compensation will be paid.

“They are remorseful for what happened, and are no longer running the business.”

Judge Christopher Prince sentenced Sidwell to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, and Brown to eight months, suspended for two years. Each must do 100 hours of community work, and each must pay £2,200 costs.

Anne Peachey’s daughter, Joanne, 34, survived the crash in which her mother was killed.

“I am disappointed the sentence was suspended,” she said. “At least they are no longer selling unsafe cars to people. If my mother had not been killed, they would still be doing it.”

* Jak Parker, 24, of Wingate, has been jailed for twelve-and-a-half years for causing the three deaths by his dangerous driving.