AS the verdicts of not guilty came down, the pain was apparent.
The families of Stephanie Drain and Alana Boyd-Pollack were distraught.
The man accused of driving the car that killed them held his head in his hands and cried.
‘‘I thought after all this time we might be able to get some closure, but not any more,’’ Stephanie’s grandmother Kay Drain said.
‘‘Two girls have lost their lives and no one is going to be held accountable.’’
Alana, 17, and Stephanie, 15, were in the back seat of the Ford Falcon when it accelerated harshly then left Raymond Terrace Road, East Maitland, on January 12, 2011.
Four youths survived with various injuries.
Only one of the survivors had a memory of the incident and he nominated the accused as the driver while the accused said it was the witness who switched seats with him just moments before the crash.
While the jury delivered verdicts of not guilty to two counts of manslaughter, two alternative counts of dangerous driving occasioning death and one count of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, what we’ll never know is how they arrived at their verdicts.
Did they simply have a reasonable doubt that the accused was the driver or were they convinced that the other teen was behind the wheel?
Members of Alana and Stephanie’s families and friends left the court within seconds of the verdict, their distress obvious.
Minutes later, the accused was discharged from the dock where he was mobbed by friends and family.
He had told Newcastle District Court that he had driven the car on the night of the crash.
He admitted that the group had planned to steal petrol from an East Maitland service station, but they were told by an attendant that they would have to pay first.
The accused, who was 17 at the time of the crash, said he drove into the middle of the road, switched seats with one of the passengers and was in the back seat with Alana and Stephanie when the car sped off.
The witness said he was in the back seat and that he saw the speedometer reach 150km/h before the car lost control and crashed.
He said he woke up in a paddock with the girls not far away and that the accused was leaning against a tree.
He said he ran from the scene to get help while defence barrister Alissa Moen suggested that he fled to avoid police.
‘‘When you hear the injuries they suffered, it just breaks your heart,’’ Mrs Drain said.
‘‘The families are angry.
‘‘I haven’t cried yet. I will probably bawl all night. There are two beautiful young girls gone and no one appears to be to blame.’’