Careless driver escapes prison

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A DRIVER who lost control of his car causing a crash which killed two of his passengers has been spared a jail sentence.

Lawrence Charles, 27, was driving from Milton Keynes to Bletchley in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2010, with four passengers in his Renault Clio.

But on the V8 Marlborough Street at Peartree Bridge he was distracted and turned to see what was happening behind him, causing the car to hit a kerb and snake out of control.

It crossed the central reservation and struck some trees, Luton Crown Court heard on Friday.

Three of the passengers were thrown from the vehicle and two of them, 20-year-old Thomas Nunes-Petts and 19- year-old Shadreck ‘Shaggy’ Tshuma, died at the scene.

Charles, of Lenthall Close, Bradwell, pleaded not guilty to two charges of causing death by careless driving but was convicted by a jury at Huntingdon Crown Court last month.

He was sentenced at a different court because the trial Judge had moved locations.

Judge David Farrell QC told Charles: “You were clearly distracted by the activities of your back seat passengers and looked behind you to see what they were doing.

You should not have done so. You should have pulled over and dealt with the situation.

“The consequences were tragic. It was a truly tragic accident caused by a momentary loss of attention.

“But it is not the case that you were driving dangerously, or were drunk or driving at excessive speed or showing off. The cause was your carelessness.

“You have to live with the fact that you caused the deaths of two innocent people who were looking forward to satisfying and fulfilling lives.”

Charles, who was said not to have driven since, was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work.

He was disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to pay £250 costs.

He had a previous conviction for careless driving in 2005.

Prosecutor Rebecca Fairbairn said the two young men who died and two of their friends had booked hotels rooms in Milton Keynes so they could enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

By chance they met Charles in a bar, who knew one of their party and they all decided to go to the Beacon club in Bletchley.

Some of the victim impact statements were read to the court.

Thomas’s mother Sally said: “Unless someone’s child has died suddenly and violently no one will fully understand the pain and devastation.

“He was the big brother to two little sisters who looked up to him and thought the world of him.”

Thomas lived in Bletchley and was studying at Milton Keynes College.

Shadreck was from Newport Pagnell and was studying aircraft engineering at Bedford College.

Niall Quinn QC, defending Charles, said: “He has never driven again, and does not go out. He is leading a reclusive life and working long and anti social hours.”