Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lewis Young jailed for Payton Sparks crash death

Wreckage of car after crash
Image caption Payton Sparks was a front seat passenger when the car crashed

A driver who ignored the "pleas and screams" of his girlfriend to slow down has been jailed for causing her death.

Payton Sparks, 16, from Havant, Hampshire, died when the green Vauxhall Tigra she was travelling in hit a building at Staunton Country Park.

She had been pulled into the stolen car by her boyfriend and died at the scene, in Petersfield Road, on 25 May.

Lewis Young, of no fixed abode, was jailed for eight years for causing death by dangerous driving.

The 19-year-old's blood levels showed he was above the legal drink-drive limit. He had also taken ketamine and mephedrone.

Young, who had never held a driving licence, had taken his parent's car to pick up Payton from a party.

'Thrill-seeking behaviour'

Image caption Payton Sparks, 16, was killed instantly in the crash

The jury at Portsmouth Crown Court heard that he grabbed her and pulled her into the car, threatening to pull her by the hair if she refused.

He then drove up to 80mph [128 km/h] in a built-up area, filled the car up with petrol and drove off at speed without paying and without the lights on.

He overtook cars on blind bends before losing control and crashing into a telegraph pole and a wall.

Payton was killed instantly.

The court heard that a 14-year-old boy, who had only got into the car to protect Payton, was seriously injured in the crash.

Judge Roger Hetherington said that Young ignored his two young passengers who begged him to slow down.

He said: "It is obvious to people who observed your driving throughout your journey that you were driving extremely dangerously at great speed and that a collision was almost inevitable.

"It was a pattern of reckless risk-taking, thrill-seeking behaviour and it was inevitable that a serious crash would one day result."

As Young was taken away, Payton's mother Lisa Garner shouted: "Go and hang yourself Louie, you're a murderer, you killed my daughter."

'Shining light'

Image caption Lewis Young pulled his girlfriend into the car, the court heard

In a later statement the family said: "In our darkest hour we would like everyone to remember Payton how she was.

"A beautiful person, kind and forgiving in every aspect of life... the kind of girl that would help anyone.

"Not only have her family and friends lost her, but this world has also lost a shining light that brought happiness to so many people along her short journey of life."

Sgt Rob Heard, from Hampshire Constabulary, said: "After taking the vehicle without consent, Lewis Young set out on a path of action which was bound to end in disaster and, devastatingly, it did.

"Payton had her whole life ahead of her and Lewis Young has robbed this from her and her family.

"Young has a total disregard for others, and no sentence could ever undo the damage he has caused to so many lives."

Young also admitted charges of causing serious injury to another person by driving dangerously on a road, aggravated vehicle taking, driving without insurance, driving while disqualified and making off without payment.

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