BMW driver is cleared over death

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A MAN accused of killing his best friend in a car crash was yesterday cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

Brian Payne, 27, and Paul Wright, 26, were allegedly racing each other in their BMWs along Norwood High Street, south London, the Old Bailey heard earlier this week.

Mr Payne was alleged to have tried to overtake his friend causing the other car, containing four passengers, to lose control. The car overturned and skidded along on its roof, killing Mr Wright and paralysing a passenger.

Mr Payne denied that he and his friend had been driving dangerously.

He told the court: 'We were not racing each other at all. We were just driving home together from a night out. All I remember about the accident is that we were both approaching a narrow stretch of the road.

'Our cars were side by side. I did not want to leave it too late to get across into the lane . . . I think we touched but I'm not entirely sure.'

He said his car went out of control. When he recovered control he could not see his friend's car and drove back.

Paul Wright was killed in the accident, and Kim Harris, 22, of south Norwood, was paralysed and is now confined to a wheelchair.

Stephen Holt, for the prosecution, said that a post- mortem examination on Mr Wright, 26, from Thornton Heath, south London, showed he was over the drink- drive limit. Mr Payne, of Norwood, a financial adviser, had not been drinking.

After the verdict, Mr Payne refused to comment.