A teenager who ‘killed his best friend’ when he took his father’s dual control car while nearly two and half times over the alcohol limit was sentenced to 40 months in a young offenders institution.
University student Marc Lutman, 19, got behind the wheel of the silver Vauxhall Corsa with his passenger Ian Deer, also 19, despite having no insurance or permission to drive the vehicle which belonged to his father, Phillip.
The second year undergraduate at Leicester University gave in to his friend’s request for a 1am drive after they were both asked to leave a party for being “worse for wear” earlier in the evening, a court was told.
Lincoln Crown Court was told yesterday (Monday) there was some “tom foolery” during the ten minute spin with Mr Deer pressing the dual controls and pulling Lutman’s arm away from the steering wheel shortly before the crash.
A friend who knew both teenagers had earlier warned Mr Deer in a text message “This won’t go well.”
The journey ended in tragedy when Lutman lost control of the car while speeding over the 60mph limit in West Fen, Stickney.
Mr Deer, from Revesby, Lincs, was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle as it flew over 80 metres in to a field. He died from his injuries despite Lutman’s efforts to give him first aid.
Lutman flagged down a passing taxi driver and called 999. When police arrived he was still trying to save his friend. Mark Knowles, prosecuting, said Lutman admitted to being the driver and was overheard to say “What have I done, I’ve killed my best friend.”
Tests later showed he was nearly two and half times over the drink drive limit with a reading of 84 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath compared with the legal level of 35.
The court heard Lutman was an ‘exemplary student’ with no previous convictions.
Alison Summers, mitigating, said a custodial sentence would inevitably lead to the end of his University career.
She added it was clear from text messages sent by Mr Deer that it was his idea to take the car keys.
One text message sent in reply to Mr Deer from a friend even read “Oh dear. This won’t go well.”
Miss Summers said: “At the time that message was sent Mr Deer was in the driver’s seat and he was going to drive to McDonald’s.”
Lutman eventually gave in and drove off himself. “Both were in high spirits. Mr Lutman says Mr Deer pressed the dual controls,” Miss Summers added.
“There was some tom foolery. Mr Lutman says Mr Deer pulled his arm away from the steering wheel. A short time later he lost control and went in to the field.”
The court heard Mr Deer’s mother, Christine, who sat in the public gallery during the hearing, did not blame Lutman for the crash and met him the day before he appeared in court to be sentenced.
Miss Summers added: “It is testament to Christine Deer that she does not blame the defendant when he blames nobody but himself.”
Lutman, of East Keal Fen, Lincs, admitted causing death by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit following the crash on 30 August last year.
Passing sentence Judge Michael Heath said Mr Deer had contributed to the crash with some of his actions but there could be no alternative to a custodial sentence for the driver.
Lutman was sentenced to three years and four months in a young offenders institution, banned from driving for five years and ordered to take an extended driving test.
Judge Heath told Lutman he could have said “No” to his friend on several occasions.
“This is a case of youthful folly fuelled by alcohol with tragic consequences,” Judge Heath added.
“The attitude of Mrs Deer to what you have done and to you is remarkable.”