Chard death driver escapes jail

This is The West Country: LIAM Taylor. LIAM Taylor.

THE parents of a Chard teenager who was killed as a result of his friend’s dangerous driving say no prison sentence can bring back their son.

Liam Taylor, 19, died at Frenchay Hospital, on December 18, 2012, as a result of head injuries sustained in a car crash the previous evening in Station Road, Ilminster, on the approach to the Southfields roundabout.

The former Holyrood Academy student, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the front passenger seat of Benjamin Aston’s Peugeot 206.

CCTV showed it was travelling between 73mph and 77mph on the stretch of the B3168 in question, where the speed limit is 40mph.

Aston, 22, of Loveridge Lane in Tatworth, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving on February 11 after initially denying the charge in November at Taunton Crown Court.

The self-employed builder, appeared at the same court last Wednesday to be sentenced.

Prosecuting, William Hunter said: “Liam Taylor was a young man with a promising future as a motocross rider, having been signed by Kawasaki.

“It was dark and the road was wet from recent rain. It’s a corner which should be easily negotiated at the speed limit.

“The defendant said he was not in a race but said he had put his foot down from the set of temporary traffic lights and accepted he would not have lost control had he been driving at 40mph.”

The court heard how Liam’s family was distressed by Aston’s initial not guilty plea because they felt he was not accepting responsibility for what he had done.

Defending, Emma Martin said: “Mr Aston was very upset to see that his not-guilty plea had further upset the family.

“He pleaded not guilty entirely on legal advice as there were questions over scientific evidence against him and we wanted that to be investigated thoroughly before he pleaded guilty.

“His sense of total devastation at the loss he has caused the Taylor family is acute.

“To say he is sorry sounds trite in the circumstances.

“His remorse is complete; it is genuine.”

Judge David Ticehurst handed him a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years, banned him from driving for five years and ordered him to carry out 300 hours unpaid work and pay £1,600 costs.

The judge told Aston: “Liam Taylor’s life unexpectedly came to an end suddenly and far too soon as a result of your actions that night. But for that, he would undoubtedly still be alive.

“His mother said it was obviously a massive shock and she and the whole family is still struggling to come to terms with his loss.

“I accept that the deceased was a close friend of yours and you are going to have to live with this for the rest of your life.

“You are, perhaps, typical of a number of young drivers who drive too fast and fail to appreciate the consequences of doing so until it’s too late. The tragic consequences are all too apparent now.”

Liam leaves behind his parents, Gail and Chris, brother Grant and two sisters Toni and Della.

Speaking after the sentence, Mr and Mrs Taylor said: “We never wished for Ben to serve a prison sentence – all we ever asked was for him to own up and plead guilty to dangerous driving.

“Ben didn’t intentionally go out to kill Liam – they were friends and, whether he went to prison or not, it will never bring Liam back.

“Perhaps, if Liam was wearing a safety belt the consequences may have been different, although through Ben’s actions our lives are now totally ruined and life will never be the same without Liam. No parent should have to watch their child die.

“We know that Ben will still have to live with the guilt of what he has done, but at least he still has his life.”

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