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Teenager detained over causing friend’s death in high-speed crash

Twenty-one-year-old Jordan Maxwell died in the crash near Gloucester on April 22 last year.

Jordan Maxwell (Gloucestershire Police/PA)
Jordan Maxwell (Gloucestershire Police/PA)

By Rod Minchin, PA

An unlicensed and uninsured teenage driver has been detained for more than four years for killing his friend in a high-speed crash.

Jake Buckle, then 17, had smoked cannabis and hit speeds of between 86mph and 96mph on a 50mph road when he failed to negotiate a gradual bend and crashed into trees.

He fled the scene near Gloucester, leaving behind fatally injured passenger Jordan Maxwell, 21 – although he handed himself in to police hours later.

Mr Maxwell had been thrown from the passenger seat of the Mazda 6 saloon and was declared dead at the scene a short time later.

Gloucester Crown Court heard the crash happened at 2.20am on April 22 last year on the A38 in Moreton Valence.

David Scutt, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant left the scene leaving one shoe behind in the wreckage.

“The scene was discovered by two other motorists and the emergency services were called by them shortly after.”

The court heard that a third friend, Sam Stone, was also in the car that night but had been dropped off an hour before the collision.

Mr Stone told police they had all smoked cannabis that evening and claimed the defendant had taken three lines of cocaine as well.

“He drove fast and erratically and was regularly told to slow down by Mr Stone and Mr Maxwell,” Mr Scutt said.

My life is over. The day you killed my son is the day I died. Victim's mother, Zoe Maxwell

“On that occasion, the evening of April 21, the defendant also took three lines of cocaine and that made him hyper and driving erratically.”

Mr Scutt added: “There was speed, impairment through drugs and there is a history of erratic and fast driving.”

Blood tests taken after Buckle’s arrest showed he was four times the legal drug-driving limit for cocaine and two-and-a-half-times the limit for cannabis.

He later told police the crash had been caused after he fell asleep at the wheel and when he woke up and saw Mr Maxwell, he “panicked” and fled.

The court heard Buckle had only turned 17 two weeks before the crash and had only recently bought the car, which he had registered with the DVLA using a false name.

In a powerful victim impact statement, Mr Maxwell’s mother, Zoe Maxwell, tearfully told Buckle: “My life is over. The day you killed my son is the day I died.

“Why did you do this? Why did you leave him? We took you in, you were his friend. You have destroyed everything. Our family has been destroyed.”

She added: “I keep getting thoughts that my boy was lying in the road calling for me and I wasn’t there and I hate myself for that.

“You didn’t even call an ambulance and stay with him. I just can’t believe you did this. You haven’t shown any remorse for what you have done.”

Buckle, now 18, of Barnwood Point, Corinium Avenue, Gloucester, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by driving without a licence and also by driving while uninsured.

Matthew Harbinson, defending, said Buckle accepted he had smoked cannabis hours before the crash but denied using cocaine that night.

He added that Buckle had suffered a difficult childhood having been taken into care.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC, The Recorder of Gloucester, imposed a sentence of four years and four months’ youth detention.

“You should not have been driving and it would have been obvious to you that you were not qualified to drive,” the judge said.

“You had no licence and no insurance and had also submitted the paperwork for the ownership of the car in the name of another person to avoid getting speeding tickets.

“You were under the influence of cannabis when you came to have that accident and Mr Stone describes you as being ‘hyper’.

“Whatever the precise amounts of drugs in your system that would have had an impact upon the manner and quality of your driving.

“You left the scene of the collision and whatever the reason that was an act of cowardice on your part.

“No matter the difficulties you have had in your youth and the problems you have had growing up, your maturity does not even begin to come into play when you make a series of conscious decisions to breach the law in the way you did.

“It may explain it, but it does not excuse it.”

Buckle was also banned from driving for 66 months and ordered to take an extended driving test.

PA

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