Young death-crash driver attacked for ‘arrogance’

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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 had 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 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 before bursting into flames with Mr Popple trapped inside.

Huxtable, a construction worker, tried to hitch a ride on a lorry to his home in nearby Bratton Fleming. It was only when the lorry driver refused that Huxtable said 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 was told.

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

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Burnett said: “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.”

Andrew Macfarlane, prosecuting, said the trio had been drinking with another person in memory of a friend who had died a year earlier – when they decided to go into Barnstaple for food. It was agreed Huxtable should drive, as he was “the most sober”, taking Ms Kift’s vehicle.

Defending, Lee Bremridge said: “What Mr Huxtable did has led to the deaths of two friends of his on what were dreadful circumstances. He accepts full responsibility for what happened. Now aged 22, the events of the early hours of June 1 will live with him for the rest of his life.”