A motorist has been jailed for 16 months and banned from driving for more than two years after admitting dangerous driving in a high-speed car crash that claimed the life of his friend.
Liam Dixon, 27, admitted the charge after driving at more than 100 miles per hour on the Wigton by-pass in February 2018. His friend Steven Parker died in the crash when his BMW clipped the back of Dixon's modified Corsa car.
An experienced police investigator concluded Liam Dixon hit a staggering “118mph as probably a minimum” while testing a Vauxhall Corsa he bought on eBay, on a damp stretch of the A596 on the outskirts of Wigton in February, 2018.
Dixon, accelerated hard twice, first after pulling on to the town bypass and then after slowing as a car in front turned off the road. “I put my foot down,” he admitted at Carlisle Crown Court. “There is no reason to do it, to be honest. Just because it’s what I went there to do. I honestly didn’t know what speed I was doing,” added Dixon who conceded: “It was dangerous.”
His trip ended as friend Steven Parker, travelling just behind him in his high-powered £25,000 BMW 335D X Drive, lost control and spun off the road, demolishing two trees and suffering fatal injuries.
Another motorist recalled getting a “fright” after seeing the two vehicles, around half a car length apart and keeping pace with each other, “absolutely flying”.
A jury yesterday found Dixon unanimously not guilty of a charge he had denied which alleged he caused 23-year-old Mr Parker’s death by dangerous driving.
Dixon, however, did admit a dangerous driving offence. This reflected the breathtaking speed he reached during his journey in a Corsa which had been fitted by a previous owner with a two-litre Saab engine - replacing a standard 1200cc engine - along with upgraded suspension and brakes.
Dixon had previously been prosecuted for an insurance offence after it emerged the DVLA had not been informed about that engine modification.
Dixon, of Throstle Avenue, Wigton, was sentenced today when Recorder Michael Duck QC heard details of an “appalling” earlier dangerous driving crime he committed, on a B-road near Wigton in 2014, in a high powered MG ZR which was seen by an off-duty police officer to overtake at speed despite oncoming traffic approaching.
Kim Whittlestone, defending the caravan engineer, said: “The (2018) offence itself is one of excessive speed over a relatively short distance. The defendant does show genuine remorse for the events that occurred that afternoon. He has been hurt and has felt the loss of Mr Parker.”
Passing sentence, Recorder Duck said: “There can, tragically, be no clearer demonstration of the dangers of driving in that manner given what happened. I don’t sentence you for it.
“It is absolutely plain that anybody who drives in this manner drives dangerously and risks injury to themselves, their passengers or indeed any other road users.”
Dixon must serve a two-year driving ban when released and pass an extended re-test.
In a statement, Sergeant Claire Sampson of Cumbria Police said: “This was a tragic incident which resulted in the death a young man who had his whole life ahead of him. The collision will significantly affect a great deal of people for many years and provoke a stark reminder about other young people we have lost unnecessarily on our roads over many years.
“The speed limit for this stretch of road is 50mph and it is clear both drivers were travelling, in the very least, twice that. Deaths like Stevens’ are avoidable, if as drivers we could take that moment to consider the what if.
“I can only hope that this incident serves as a warning to other young drivers in our county. The risks of driving in a dangerous manner, however brief, even if you see it as simply having fun or think it’s a laugh, with no intention to hurt each other, can lead to disastrous consequences that will last a lifetime."
Cumbria Police released dash cam footage of the crash after the trial had ended.