Grieving dad's 35-year plea to crash man

THE father of a teenager killed alongside two friends in a car crash more than 35 years ago last night called for the man who fled the country after the accident to “come back and face justice”.

THE father of a teenager killed alongside two friends in a car crash more than 35 years ago last night called for the man who fled the country after the accident to “come back and face justice”.

Reg Holdstock spoke out after an arrest warrant was finally issued for Gerald Nevard, the driver thought to be responsible for the crash, who avoided the courts by starting a new life in Australia.

Mr Holdstock's 17-year-old son, Brian, was a passenger in a Ford Escort which collided with Nevard's sports car in Thorrington in August 1974.

Brian and the Ford's driver Howard Howells, 18, were both killed instantly and passenger Janet Gilpen, 16, of Wivenhoe, died by the time she was taken to Essex County Hospital, Colchester.

Brian and Howard were buried side by side in Brightlingsea on consecutive days as the town mourned the loss of the much-loved teenage friends.

A fourth youngster in the car, Sasanqua Radclyffe, 14, suffered minor injuries.

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After the crash Nevard was served with a summons to appear before magistrates to face three counts of death by dangerous driving.

But the insurance inspector of Church Road, Thorrington, who was 31 at the time - fled to Australia and has been there ever since.

However, following a fresh review of the case by road policing officers and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) a warrant for Nevard's arrest was issued at Colchester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

The Australian authorities will now make a decision on whether they deport him back to the UK.

Last night Mr Holdstock told the EADT he hoped to live long enough to see justice.

He said: “I hope he comes back.”

Speaking at his Brightlingsea home, Mr Holdstock, 79, said his wife, Marjorie, had been so traumatised by her son's death that she was never the same again - even spending three months being treated for her mental health in Severalls Hospital.

She died earlier this year and was buried by the son of the funeral director who had dealt with Brian's funeral.

“My wife was never the same after the accident. She would get very irritable and would not leave the house - it really did ruin her life.

“We used to go out all the time before we lost him but then it changed and she would spend most of her time in the garden and did not want to see people.

“It ruined her life - it is as simple as that. It killed her, she was full of life before that. After it happened she just wanted to die and go with her son.”

The retired builder still carries a black and white picture of his son in his wallet with him at all times.

“I am very angry. My message to him is come back and face justice. Three innocent people were killed and they had their whole lives in front of them.

“But I don't think he has any conscience. For me, I would have had to face up to that,” he said.

His son, Reggie Junior, 46, who was 11 when his brother Brian died, said the emotions were still raw.

He said: “One part of me is glad that mum is not here now because I don't think she would have coped with this now.

“I was 11 years old and had to go and see my mum in a mental hospital because of what happened.

“Nevard has been living the life of Riley - he has not suffered as we have?

“It may have been 35 years, but people have to think about 'what if it was their son, or brother?' - the pain does not go away.”

After the accident the whole of Brightlingsea was in mourning and more than 10,000 people put their names to a petition calling for justice.

Mr Holdstock and Howard Howells' father took the petition to the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson and he also received a letter from the Australian Prime Minister saying he wanted to see justice.

Road traffic officers confirmed yesterday that the Australian police had put pressure on Nevard to return in the past, but he did not come back.