A man has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison after he crashed his car into a tree, killing his friend who was a passenger.
James Norton, aged 20, of Latimer Close, Hemel Hempstead, appeared before St Albans Crown Court yesterday (Monday, January 7) after being found guilty on December 5, 2018, following a three-day trial.
He was also disqualified from driving for four years and two months, and will have to take an extended test before getting behind the wheel again.
The court had previously heard that around 2.15pm on August 25, 2017, Norton was travelling to West Herts College in Watford with his friend Joshua Porter (pictured), who was 18.
Norton, who was 19 at the time, was driving his red Vauxhall Corsa and Joshua was in the passenger seat.
They were travelling along the eastbound carriageway of the A414, in the direction of St Albans, when Norton lost concentration.
Dash cam footage showed him travelling in excess of the 70mph speed limit towards a slower vehicle ahead, but he did not notice until the last second. He swerved into the second lane to avoid a collision.
As a result he lost control of the vehicle – which was estimated to be travelling between 79.3 and 84.6mph at the time – and span off the road before hitting a tree.
Emergency services attended the scene but sadly Joshua, who was from Bushey, passed away from his injuries before he could be taken to hospital. He left his mother Deborah, his father David, his older sister Jayne and his younger brother Benjamin.
Norton was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington with serious injuries, but was discharged the next day. He was later summonsed to court to answer a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, Joshua’s mother Deborah said: “We are serving a life sentence without Joshua here. He had his whole life ahead of him with a career in the army, and later in life a wife, a family of his own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.
“There is so much more Joshua had to do in his life, as an individual and with his family, but all that was cut extremely short on the 25th of August 2017. We love and miss Joshua more than anything. As each day passes without him, it’s heart-breaking. He will be forever eighteen.”
Former Queens’ School student Joshua was described as ‘cheeky’ and ‘adventurous’ by his family, and he was involved in many extra-curricular activities.
He was an Explorer with 1st Hatch End Scouts and played for Fullerians Rugby Football Club in Watford alongside his younger brother, Benjamin.
The Public Services student was also a member of the Combined Cadet Force, joining when he was in school and ranking as Sergeant.
At Joshua’s funeral, £740 was raised in donations for Help For Heroes in his memory. His family continue to raise money for the charity through a number of organised events.
PC Dale Morris, who supported Joshua’s family throughout the investigation as a family liaison officer, said: “This is a really tragic case for all concerned. Joshua was just 18 when he lost his life. Now his family and friends won’t see him realise his dreams and they have to suffer the pain of living without him every day. Joshua’s friend will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. I want to pay tribute to the bravery his family showed throughout the investigation and my thoughts are very much with them as they come to terms with the court case’s conclusion.”