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Lowestoft driver spared jail for crash which killed his friend

Lowestoft teenager Taylor High who died in the crash.

Lowestoft teenager Taylor High who died in the crash.

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A young man whose careless driving caused an horrific crash which killed his friend has been spared jail, but a judge told him he was "lucky" he was not going to prison.

Jamie Gibbs, 21, admitted causing the death of his 19-year-old friend Taylor High in a crash on the A17 King’s Lynn to Sleaford Road at Clenchwarton.

Norwich Crown Court heard on Wednesday how Mr High, from Lowestoft, had been a passenger in a Renault Clio being driven by Gibbs at about 10.15pm on Saturday, March 26.

Prosecutor Richard White said witnesses had seen Gibbs, of Hall Road, Oulton Broad, overtaking a stream of five to six vehicles on the single carriageway road.

Mr White said, with vehicles approaching, other drivers Gibbs was overtaking tried to brake to let him in. But as Gibbs tucked in he veered to the right and hit a Peugeot travelling on the opposite carriageway.

Gibbs wept in court as Mr White said his friend had died at the scene.

The court heard that Gibbs, who walks with a crutch, had to be cut out of the car by firefighters and spent more than a month in hospital with serious injuries.

But the court heard that Mr High’s parents Gary and Elaine High, did not want Gibbs, who was a schoolmate of their son at Benjamin Britten High School in Lowestoft, to go to prison.

Judge Peter Jacobs told Gibbs that had played a part in his decision to spare him jail. He said: “Because you have got a very fine man and a very forgiving man, much more than many would be, your sentence will be suspended.”

But Judge Jacobs added: “You have destroyed your friend’s life, his family’s life and your own life because you will wake up with this every day for the rest of your life.

“There’s nothing an elderly judge like me can say, except I see this time and time again. It’s reported in press and on television, but nothing changes.

“You are lucky not to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving and I suspect if the alternative was not there, the crown would have prosecuted you for that and you would have been convicted.”

But Judge Jacobs said sending Gibbs to prison would not achieve anything. He gave him a 12-month suspended sentence, disqualified him from driving for four years and ordered him to pay £500 court costs.

He also imposed a curfew on Gibbs that he must not leave his home from 9pm this Friday night until 6am on Monday morning - a move the judge acknowledged was “tokenism” because sentencing guidelines meant he had to include a community order as an alternative to prison.

Mr and Mrs High have raised almost £10,000 for good causes in their son’s name, with the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston among the beneficiaries.

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