A JUDGE has spoken of the “awful tragedy” of a couple who were killed the day before they were due to celebrate their diamond wedding and his admiration of their family.

Judge Tom Bayliss QC was speaking after a jury cleared landscape gardener Robert William Verity, 26, of causing their deaths by careless driving on Northgate Lane, near Gate Helmsley.

He had just rounded a bend on the country lane when his Land Rover and trailer collided with the Citroen Xsara driven by Dennis Green, 81, accompanied by his wife Doreen, 80. Both lived in Strensall for more than 50 years and would have attended a family party the next day .

Mr Verity, of Middlecroft Drive, Strensall, did not speak as he left York Crown Court at the end of his four-day trial. He had denied the charges.

Speaking to the jury, the judge said: “Whatever happened that day, it was a tragedy. They were in their early eighties. It was the most awful thing, the most awful tragedy for them and their family.”

Members of the Green family attended court throughout the trial. The judge told them: “I am very grateful to you for the great dignity you have shown and I do express heartfelt condolences for your loss.

‘’Thank you very much for the way you have conducted yourselves.”

Speaking on behalf of the Green family, Sgt Dave Willey, of North Yorkshire Police, said: ‘’They now feel they fully understand the circumstances surrounding the collision and they have gained much solace in the fact that both experts (for the prosecution and the defence) have agreed that Mr Dennis Green’s driving was not at fault.

“It has been a complex and tragic road collision, which has sadly resulted in the death of two elderly and much loved people,” he said. “It was right the jury had the opportunity to decided whether anyone was at fault and we accept the jury’s decision.”