In the Media

Teenager jailed for killing two friends when he crashed his mother's car

PUBLISHED April 12, 2012

A 17-year-old novice driver who killed two of his friends while showing off in his mother's people carrier has been jailed for five years.

Arseng Rashid, from Ingleby Barwick, Teesside, lost control after driving straight over two roundabouts and clipping two kerbs, which caused the Toyota Corolla Verso to overturn as it sped down a slip-road on to the A66 in Stockton on 11 September.

Now 18, the defendant admitted two counts of death by dangerous driving after his 17-year-old schoolmates Josh Hopkins and Joshua Stevenson, who were trapped in the seven-seater, died in the crash.

Two other friends, who had been driven around Teesside for hours before the smash some time before 6am, were also injured and have lasting mental scars, Teesside crown court heard.

After picking his friends up for a "mooch", Rashid launched the vehicle into the air as it went over a humpback bridge near Kirklevington prison at an estimated 80-90mph.

Some 20 minutes before the fatal crash, he overtook a furious taxi driver at 85-90mph in a 30mph zone, Christine Egerton, prosecuting, said.

Minutes later, a CCTV camera caught Rashid driving the 2.2-litre diesel on the wrong side of the road at 68mph in Yarm Road, which is again a 30mph zone.

Rashid had passed his driving test only 10 weeks before he killed his friends.

The teenagers ? but not Rashid, the prosecution accepted ? had earlier stopped to smoke cannabis, the court heard. The teenager also later passed a roadside breath test.

The friends were on their way to a McDonalds at Teesside Park, via the A66, when Rashid went straight over two mini roundabouts.

One of the surviving teenagers later told police Rashid had said: "Shall I go straight over or round?"

The car clipped two kerbs, and as Rashid lost control it flipped over. There was no evidence of any braking.

Egerton said police had found a 39-metre trail of debris before the car came to rest, by which time all its windows were broken.

Hopkins, in the front passenger seat, and Stevenson, sitting behind him, were both unconscious but alive after the smash. They died at the scene.

A police accident report concluded "excess speed and inexperience" were to blame.

Judge Peter Fox, the recorder of Middlesbrough, said Rashid had deliberately and intentionally driven dangerously.

"You have affected the lives of many," he told the defendant.

The judge branded his earlier speeding "outrageous", adding: "This is no mere recklessness. This is no mere error of judgment. You knew what you were doing." Rashid nodded as the judge said: "This is a very bad case. You know that."

Fox criticised the teenager's comment to a probation officer that most young, inexperienced drivers "experiment" by going straight over mini-roundabouts, branding the statement "arrogant rubbish".

Rashid was sentenced to five years, starting in a young offender institution, and was banned from driving for five years, after which he must take an extended test.

"You have only just passed your test," the judge told him. "It is to be hoped that, when allowed, you will have learned your lesson." Mohammed Nawaz, defending, said Rashid loved and respected the friends he had killed.

"He knows he will have to bear now and for the rest of his life the responsibility of knowing his actions caused their death and his actions caused pain and distress for a very significant number of people," he said.