Young driver locked up for four years after crash that killed his two friends

George Mills has been sentenced to four years detention Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

George Mills has been sentenced to four years detention Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk man who was driving at around 100mph when his car aquaplaned on a flooded area of the A14 and hit a tree, killing his two friends has been sentenced to four years detention.

William Smedley, described by his family as a kind and caring young man. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULA

William Smedley, described by his family as a kind and caring young man. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

Sentencing George Mills, Judge David Goodin said he had "been travelling too fast in manifestly wet conditions".

He accepted Mills, who had only passed his driving test four months earlier, was an inexperienced driver.

"You aren't a monster. You were then an astonishingly foolish 17-year-old who made a terrible decision that day," said the judge.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that Mills had picked up his 18-year-old friends Jake Paxton and William Smedley on the evening of Boxing Day 2017 and was driving along the A14 at Rougham when his car hit a 75mm deep patch of standing water in the off-side lane caused by a blocked drain at the side of the road.

Floral tributes to William Smedley, who died in the collision on the A14 near Rougham Picture: ARCH

Floral tributes to William Smedley, who died in the collision on the A14 near Rougham Picture: ARCHANT


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Mills' car had aquaplaned across the near side lane and on to the verge before hitting a tree.

Mr Smedley died at the scene and Mr Paxton died later in hospital.

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Peter Gair, prosecuting said that earlier the same day two other cars - one travelling at 55-60mph and the other at 70mph - had struck the same patch of water.

One driver had been able to get his car back under control but the other car had left the road and hit a tree with the driver escaping serious injury.

Jake Paxton, who died following the crash on the A14 in Rougham on Boxing Day

Jake Paxton, who died following the crash on the A14 in Rougham on Boxing Day - Credit: Archant

Following Mills' collision police had used CCTV footage to estimate his speed at 101mph with a range of between 94-108mph.

The court heard that the Fiesta had hit the rear of a Vauxhall Corsa before leaving the road but the 19-year-old driver wasn't injured.

Mills, 20, of Stow Road, Ixworth, pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of Mr Paxton and Mr Smedley by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced to four years detention in a young offenders' institution and was banned from driving for six years.

Ian James, for Mills, said his client felt genuine remorse and would carry the burden of what had happened for the rest of his life.

He said the two victims were his friends and he had known them since secondary school.

"If anyone thinks he has taken the consequences of what happened lightly it is not correct or fair," said Mr James.

He said Mills had passed his driving test in August 2017 and wasn't experienced in driving in the conditions that presented that night.

He accepted that Mills, who was only 17 at the time of the collision, had been driving too fast but said he hadn't set out that night to hurt anyone and didn't think he had been putting anyone's lives at risk.

"This was a genuine accident and the consequences are absolutely tragic for all those involved."

He said Mills had tried to help friends following the collision.

Mr James said that the water had been in the road for some time on the day in question and it was "alarming" there were no warning signs.

The court was told that nine months after the fatal collision Mills' car had been seized by police because of concerns about his driving.

However, Mr James said this wasn't accepted and Mills hadn't been prosecuted.

In statements released after the sentencing hearing the families of William Smedley and Jake Paxton spoke of their heartbreak.

Mr Smedley's family said they were devastated to have lost a wonderful son, big brother and grandson.

"We are proud to call him son and so very thankful for the treasured memories we shared.

"We will never stop missing the amazing person you were becoming and not a day goes by without you being in our thoughts. You will be forever loved and missed. Do well boss."

Mr Paxton's family said: "The last two years and two months have been heartbreaking for us as a family.

"We can now attempt to rebuild our lives, although how we do that without our beautiful Jake we do not know. We can grieve for Jake now this case has been closed and the person responsible for his death has finally admitted his guilt.

"We can only hope that this doesn't continue happening to other families and that people learn the speed limit is there for a reason, cars can be lethal weapons and that driving massively over the speed limit can have devastating effects resulting in death.

"George Mills' sentence does not bring Jake back, so does not change anything for us, but we hope he learns and realises what he has done to our family and hope this never happens again."

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