Man avoids jail despite causing friend's death through careless drivingBy Linda Fort
January 17, 2013
A 24-year-old man who caused the death of a teenage friend in a car crash has been given a 12-month community order.
Daniel Lapworth, of Marks Road, Wokingham, will not go to jail for causing the death of Simon Barnes after the judge said it would serve no purpose.
Instead, he will carry out 300 hours of unpaid work over 12 months and be disqualified from driving for a year.
Reading Crown Court heard on Friday how Lapworth had been driving his souped-up Vauxhall Nova in a convoy of three vehicles, containing a group of friends who were on their way to a social gathering.
As they travelled along Lower Earley Way at 2pm on Saturday, April 23, 2011, Lapworth overtook one of the cars resulting in the vehicles travelling three abreast on the two-carriageway road.
Lapworth failed to complete the manoeuvre as oncoming traffic approached and his car collided with Mr Barnes’ Peugeot 106, forcing all three cars off the road.
Mr Barnes, 19, of Stockbury Close, Lower Earley, died at the scene.
The court heard Lapworth admitted causing death by careless driving last November, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided to push ahead with the more serious charge of dangerous driving because it believed the friends had been racing each other.
However, the jury was unable to reach a decision after a trial and the Crown said it would not seek a re-trial.
The court heard father-of-one Lapworth had always been in employment and was of previous good character apart from a reprimand and caution for non-driving related offences in his teenage years.
Sentencing, Judge Stephen John said: “Simon Barnes was a friend of yours.
“Because of the way you drove that day, you contributed to depriving Simon’s family of their son and his friends of their friendship.”
He said sentencing guidelines could result in Lapworth serving just six weeks in jail if he imposed a custodial sentence.
Judge John sentenced Lapworth to a 12 month community order with an unpaid work requirement of 240 hours for causing death by careless driving.
He was also sentenced to a further 60 hours’ unpaid work after admitting fraud when he failed to tell his insurance company his car had been customised, making his insurance void.
A member of Mr Barnes’ family said outside court: “Nothing will ever bring Simon back and I don’t think as a family we are particularly happy with the outcome but under the law we realise there is nothing we can do.”