Driver Joshua Chapman jailed for Bedale crash which killed three teenage friends instantly

Rachel Bullock was at Teesside Crown Court for the sentencing of Joshua Chapman

A 20-year-old man whose three teenage friends were killed instantly when his car crashed into a tree in North Yorkshire has been jailed.

Joshua Chapman drove his Alfa Romeo at "grossly excessive" speeds on a dark stretch of a country road near Bedale in July 2022 before crashing into the tree, a court has heard.

At Teesside Crown Court on Thursday (14 March), Chapman, of Mosquito Court, Bedale, was sentenced to nine years and four months behind bars and was banned from driving for ten years.

Judge Jonathan Carroll condemned Chapman’s actions, describing how his "harm to these families could hardly have been greater" – "robbing them of their much loved boys, and taking the lives of three highly promising young men".

The court was told Chapman was 18 and had passed his test only ten months before the evening of the crash in which his three friends died.

Louis Banks, Tommy Shevels and Aaron Bell died instantly in the crash on 29 July 2022. Credit: North Yorkshire Police

Late on the night of 29 July 2022, Louis Banks, 17, and 18-year-olds Tommy Shevels and Aaron Bell got into Chapman’s Alpha Romeo to go to a nearby McDonalds, the court heard.

There, Chapman was caught on CCTV speeding around the car park before heading out onto the twisting B6268 Bedale to Masham road.

One of the passengers, Aaron, texted a friend from inside the car which read: "Oh my God, please save me."

Moments later, Chapman had sped through a red roadworks light, turning a sharp bend at 75mph and lost control, hitting a tree.

All three of the victims' mothers were in court and made emotional statements about the impact the loss of their children had on them.

They told Chapman that his "arrogant", "selfish", "showing off" had devastated their families and their lives.

Nicola Percy described her son Aaron as "my son, my world and my best buddy".

Mrs Percy told the court that she had been “horrified” to discover that Chapman had set up a TikTok account explaining how to make cars, particularly Alfa Romeos, go faster.

“There are no words,” she said, and turning to Chapman who was in the dock she added: “There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed.”

The mothers of the two other boys – Tommy and Louis – spoke of how their "indescribable grief walks beside them everyday" and how their "beautiful boys have had such promising lives snatched from them".

Chapman pleaded guilty to three counts of causing death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing.

In mitigation, Chapman’s barrister Jazmine Lee said the now 20-year-old felt "colossal guilt" and has had suicidal thoughts.

Disqualifying him from driving for 10 years – and jailing him for 9 years 4 months - Judge Carroll told Chapman he had caused "a catastrophic loss for three families" - "families who are left with holes that can never be filled".

Chapman faces a four-year driving ban from the date of his prison release and was also ordered to take an extended driving test.

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