Teen car ‘racers’ spared jail

Herald Series: Oxford Crown Court Oxford Crown Court

TWO teenage drivers have been spared jail after one of them crashed their car into a cyclist as they raced through South Oxfordshire.

Lewis Herbert and Tommy Stapleton were handed 18-month suspended prison sentences at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday after being convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Cyclist Simon Pogson suffered a broken wrist and faces long-term problems after Herbert’s silver Vauxhall knocked him off his bike in Long Wittenham in February last year.

Prosecutor Tim Boswell said the 19-year-olds had been bowling with friends at the Oxford Bowlplex before the accident.

He said: “Mr Stapleton and Mr Herbert were racing each other on roads in Oxfordshire. The race involved excess speed and dangerous overtaking.”

The lawyer told the court the racing had started at the Goldenballs Roundabout. He said witnesses had seen Herbert overtake around a bend and Stapleton had overtaken Herbert while he waited at the traffic lights to cross the bridge in Clifton Hampden.

He said the race ended when Herbert hit a patch of water and lost control before hitting another car, a van, and then contract engineer Mr Pogson on his bike.

Daniel Wright, defending Stapleton, of Main Road in Appleford, said his client still denied he had been racing.

But he said: “Mr Stapleton has expressed remorse and he is certainly sorry for what he became involved in.”

And Abigail Bright, defending Herbert, from Usk Way in Didcot, said her client’s partner and their young baby depended on him working.

Reading a statement from Herbert, she said: “I recognise I was driving dangerously although I felt safe at the time. I wouldn’t and did not want to hurt anyone.”

Herbert pleaded guilty and Stapleton was convicted after a trial at Oxford Crown Court last month.

Judge Ian Pringle spared them both prison and instead gave them two-year suspended sentences.

Stapleton was also told to do 240 hours of unpaid community work and pay £1,000 compensation.

Herbert was given a 12-month supervision order, told to do 120 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £2,000 compensation.

Sentencing, Judge Pringle said: “Most people would say that sort of behaviour by two young drivers should be hammered by the courts.”

But he said he had read character references from family and friends and accepted the pair had futures ahead of them.

He added: “I have given you both a chance. Take it.”

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