A SPEEDING teenage driver was yesterday locked up for two years and three months for causing the death of his friend by dangerous driving.
Jay Haines, 18, was doing between 44 and 48mph in a 30mph zone when his overloaded Suzuki Alto hit a parked car in Tredegar Street, Risca, on November 6 last year.
Morgan Hackling, 19, died in hospital after the crash, which ended when Haines’ car rolled onto its side, sending the parked car careering across the road.
Cardiff Crown Court heard Haines, who was 17 at the time, had passed his driving test just two weeks before.
Only four days earlier he was stopped by police for speeding in Blackwood and warned for "showing off to his friends", the court heard.
Ieuan Bennett, prosecuting, told how on the night of the crash Haines went to meet friends in Risca after finishing work at a local McDonald’s restaurant.
He agreed to give five people, including Jack Taylor, Lewis Perkins, Nathan George and Luke Cook, a lift home.
Mr Hackling sat in the front passenger seat, whilst Mr Cook lay across the laps of the three others in the back.
Music from the car’s stereo was excessively loud and none of the passengers were wearing seat belts when Haines’ car hit a parked Renault as he navigated a slight bend in the road.
The impact sent the vehicle across the other side of the road, whilst Haines’ car rolled on its side and hit a lamppost at 1.35am.
Haines and two passengers managed to get out of the car, but three, including Mr Hackling, were trapped for around 30 minutes before emergency services cut them out.
The teenager was taken to Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital with "grave" neck injuries and heavy bleeding where he was pronounced dead.
Mr Cook also suffered a serious rib injury and arm wound, which required 19 stitches. The others were relatively unhurt.
Harry Baker, defending, said Haines, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing, had taken no drink or drugs that day, and said his lack of driving experience contributed to the accident.
He added the rugby and badminton player, who attended Mr Hackling’s funeral, was remorseful and had struggled to come to terms with what happened.
The music technology student will be detained in a young offender’s institution and was banned from driving for three years.
'No comfort for victim's family'
The Recorder of Cardiff, Judge Eleri Rees QC, told the teenager: "The consequences for you and your family are serious and life changing but that cannot be compared with the loss for Morgan Hackling’s family - theirs is significantly worse.
"When you have served your sentence you can, with your family and friends, rebuild your life.
"No doubt the guilt and feeling of responsibility for having taken another life will always be with you and will be a punishment you will always bear.
"For Morgan’s family there is no way of finding comfort, your sentence will not diminish their sense of loss."
COMMENT: Tragedy is lesson to all young drivers
THE jail term handed down to teenager Jay Haines for causing the death of a friend should serve as a lesson to all young drivers.
Morgan Hackling, 19, died when Haines, now 18, crashed into a parked car in Risca nearly a year ago.
Haines had passed his driving test just two weeks before the accident. He had already been stopped by police for speeding and warned about the dangers of showing off to his friends.
Clearly the message did not sink in as just days later he crashed while speeding in a 30mph zone, killing Morgan and seriously injured one of the four other friends who had crammed into his car.
Haines did not set out to kill one of his friends. But he had overloaded his car with people and he did not have the driving skills necessary to deal with the car’s additional weight and its speed.
Morgan’s family will live with the consequences of Haines’ actions for the rest of their lives.
So will he, of course, but some would suggest his jail sentence of two years and three months is not long enough.
This tragic incident is just one of a long line of similar stories covered by this newspaper over the years.
Drink and drugs played no part, but inexperience and a natural teenage tendency to show off did.
We wonder how many more young lives will be lost before newly-qualified drivers learn to accept their limitations.