Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Six years for death crash driver

Jason Huxtable pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by careless driving when over the prescribed limit (Devon & Cornwall Police/PA)

A disqualified driver who tried to blame a fatal road accident on one of his friends as she lay dying next to the burning vehicle has been jailed for six years.

Jason Huxtable, 22, was speeding and at twice the legal drink-drive limit when he killed young mother Emma Kift, 21, and Johnny Popple, 23, after he lost control of the car he was driving at Loxhore Cross, near Barnstaple in Devon.

Ms Kift, a front-seat passenger, was thrown from the car as it flipped over a hedge and rolled down a bank in the early hours of June 1 last year. The car later burst into flames, leaving Mr Popple trapped inside where he later died.

Huxtable, a construction worker, was said to have flagged down a passing lorry driver and attempted to hitch a ride to his home in nearby Bratton Fleming. It was only when the lorry driver refused to allow the lift that Huxtable informed him there had been a crash.

The defendant, who had been banned from driving three months earlier, initially said Ms Kift had been driving and showed little concern for his friends, Exeter Crown Court heard.

He eventually made a full confession to police, pleading guilty to two counts of causing death by careless driving when over the prescribed limit.

Sentencing, judge Mr Justice Burnett said: "At the time of these awful events you simply did not believe the ordinary rules which apply to everyone else applied to you.

"Time and again young lives are lost as a result of the overbearing arrogance and stupidity of young drivers who believe that they are in some way immune to the effects of alcohol and run risks with their own lives and other people's lives. The consequences of your actions are almost beyond description."

Speaking outside court, family and friends of the victims echoed Mr Justice Burnett's sentiments about drink-driving.

Hazel Kift, Ms Kift's mother, said: "We are, and always will be, devastated by the loss of Emma and Johnny. Our grief and heartbreaking loss is only compounded by the fact this tragedy could have been avoided."