THE final chapter of a tragic triple-death crash case has been delayed.
A driver who suffered brain injuries in a crash which killed three teenage girls after he had been racing with another car has been sent to a Huddersfield mental hospital for assessments to take place.
And it could be months before driver James Houston finally learns his fate.
A court heard how Houston was racing at speeds up to 60mph when his car crashed in Wakefield Road, Waterloo, killing three passengers – Gemma Cost, 15, Ursula Alokolaro, 16, and Natalie Donlan, also 16.
The driver of the second car, Adam Anguige, was jailed for 10 years earlier this year after he was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
Houston, 27, from Huddersfield, was charged with the same offence but was deemed not fit to stand trial because he lacked the mental capacity after being badly injured in the crash.
But a jury found that he had committed the act of driving in a dangerous manner.
In a hearing at Bradford Crown Court, Judge Christopher Prince made an interim hospital order in Houston’s case.
He said this meant doctors at a unit at St Luke’s Hospital, in Crosland Moor, Huddersfield, would have 12 weeks to make an assessment of the defendant before he was brought back to court for sentencing.
Watched by many members of the dead girls’ families from the public gallery, Houston sat in the dock with his mother and a security guard.
Judge Prince told the court the hospital order was not intended as a punishment.
He told the court he was concerned to find the right treatment for Houston but also needed to make sure there was “no repeat of that sort of dangerous, aggressive, criminal driving.”
Judge Prince went on: “It’s not just a simple case of saying you’ve just received your punishment from what happened that night.”
Anguige, of White Lee Road, Batley, was sentenced by the same judge in May.
The judge condemned his “fast, dangerous, aggressive and competitive driving” which led to the deaths of the girls on September 1, 2006.
He heard how Houston lost control and crashed into a lorry while overtaking Anguige in Wakefield Road.
Judge Prince said “a gauntlet was thrown down” by Houston when he drove up behind Anguige flashing his lights, then overtook him with the occupants of the car making rude gestures and swearing.
Anguige also claimed during the trial that a beer can had been thrown at his Vauxhall Nova from Houston’s Ford Fiesta, in which the three girls were travelling in the rear and Houston’s friend was a front-seat passenger.
Anguige then “set off in pursuit” of Houston, with each vehicle overtaking the other on a number of occasions in what was described as a “game of cat and mouse” at speeds of up to 60mph in a 40mph zone.
The two cars collided with each other on at least three occasions, the last being as Anguige overtook a Range Rover, while Houston simultaneously overtook the Nova, resulting in the cars travelling three-abreast along the road.
The Fiesta then struck the side of the Nova and spun out of control into the path of the lorry, whose driver was also seriously injured in the crash.