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Aristocrat cleared of dangerous driving after three-vehicle crash

Lady Zetland arriving at court Photo: PA

An aristocrat has been cleared of dangerous driving after causing a three-car smash on a busy highway.

Lady Susan Zetland, of Aske Hall, near Richmond in North Yorkshire, faced the charge after she tried to cross the A66 at the Hargill junction.

The court heard there had been a contraflow put in place and cones indicating cars should only turn left.

She had admitted careless driving, but denied being dangerous.

After three hours of deliberation, the jury at Teesside Crown Court cleared her of the more serious charge.

Speaking afterwards, she said: "I'm delighted and relieved. It's not something I want to go through again.

"It's not put me off driving, I'm glad it's over."

During the two-day trial, she had been accompanied by her husband, the 4th Marquess of Zetland, who sat in the public gallery.

The 77-year-old had been on the way to the gym on July 4 when her car was hit by a Nissan Qashqai after she pulled out in front of it.

She was then spun into the other lane in her Subaru Outback and was hit by a lorry driving the other way.

She told the court her memory was "fuzzy" about the incident, adding: "I did not realise I had made the decision to go because the next thing I knew I had been hit."

Rod Hunt, defending, told the court that two of the signs on the approach to the A66 had in fact been incorrect as they said there was no access to the road at all.

He also said one of the cones preventing cars going straight across or to the right was missing, leaving a gap.

He said it was "a puzzle of signs and cones where people had to work it out themselves".

After unanimously clearing her of dangerous driving driving, the jury instead convicted her of careless driving.

Passing sentence, Judge Howard Crowson said he completely agreed with the verdict and fined her £500 and placed six points on her licence.