'Idiot' motorist jailed after road death

A MOTORIST who drove like an "idiot" and a "maniac" has been jailed for five years for killing a teenage friend.John Price had admitted being behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Vectra that reached speeds of around 80mph as he swerved in and out of traffic along the twisty B1062 between Flixton and Bungay last July.

A MOTORIST who drove like an "idiot" and a "maniac" has been jailed for five years for killing a teenage friend.

John Price had admitted being behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Vectra that reached speeds of around 80mph as he swerved in and out of traffic along the twisty B1062 between Flixton and Bungay last July.

Moments after overtaking a lorry and narrowly missing a cyclist coming in the opposite direction, Price, 31, tried to negotiate a right-hand bend.

But as he exited the corner, the car struck a bank on the side of the road before flipping and cartwheeling through the air until it finally came to rest on its roof.

Price and his 19-year-old front-seat passenger, Chris Borrett, both clambered to safety but 17-year-old Ben Parker, also known as Ben Oakes, of Manor Road, Bungay, was killed.

Yesterday at Ipswich Crown Court, Price's driving was described as "shocking" and "appalling" as the court heard more than half-a-dozen statements from witnesses.

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He had admitted causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing as well as having no insurance and not driving in accordance with a licence.

Steven Dyble, prosecuting, told the court that Price, of Wildflower Way, Ditchingham, had picked up his teenage friends in his silver car, from the nearby Old Grammar School in Bungay and sped away performing "wheelspins".

Miles Oppenheim, who lives in Bungay, said he saw Price's car speeding along the B1062 while still in a 30mph zone.

"I watched in utter amazement as he overtook four or five other vehicles in front," he said. "The Vectra was travelling at a speed at least twice the limit. It might have been doing nearly as much as 90mph."

Colin Hancy was driving the last vehicle overtaken by Price before the fatal crash.

He said he was driving his gas lorry when Price sped past, narrowly missing an oncoming cyclist, Richard Davison.

"I became aware of a light-coloured car approaching me from behind at great speed," Mr Hancy said. "The car was doing at least twice my speed when it overtook me at a speed of about 80mph.

"I saw the cyclist had a face of fear and relief. He had a look of 'who the hell was that crazy idiot'?"

Mr Dyble said Price had been disqualified from driving several times and also prosecuted for driving without insurance.

Hugh Vass, in mitigation, said his client would be the first to admit he was "driving like a maniac" and an "idiot".

He said Price did not recall what had happened leading up to a crash and did not know why he had been driving badly.

The illiterate Price had dictated a letter of remorse to Ben's family, he said.

Mr Vass told Judge David Goodin that "whatever disposal you give him and he has ringing in his ears, he will know for the rest of his life that he killed somebody – he killed a friend".

Sentencing Price, the judge said he had a " very bad" driving record and his driving on July 22 could only be described as "shocking".

"A value cannot be placed on human life," the judge said. "Nothing can restore to Ben Parker's family and those who love him, what you have taken from them."

As Price was also disqualified from driving for five years and had his licence endorsed there were shouts of "Yes" from Ben's family in the public gallery.

After the case, Ben's father, Stuart, said: "It is just such a shame really. It has destroyed our family and John's family as well.

"The result does not help me at all; it doesn't do anything. It's too painful to think about what happened. This part is over now but there is still a long way to go."

Ben's sister Jade, 21, said: "After five years he is going to walk out of there and get on with his life again, and he can start over again. What have we got to start with?"

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