Hit-and-run driver loses appeal

A hit-and-run driver in an accident which claimed the life of a Lowestoft teenager has lost an appeal against his sentence.

A hit-and-run driver in an accident which claimed the life of a Lowestoft teenager has lost an appeal against his sentence.

Ashley Kelf, of Potters Drive, Hopton, was sentenced to 22 months in a young offenders' institution last December for the part he played in the crash that killed 16-year-old Daniel Felstead.

His two co-defendants, David Wordsworth and Nathan Thrower, who both admitted perverting the course of justice after helping to torch the car, were sentenced to 14 months and 10 months.

But yesterday the Criminal Appeal Court dismissed appeals by Kelf, 20, and Thrower, 18, of St Clare Court, Hopton, only granting the appeal of Wordsworth, 20, of Lichfield Road, Yarmouth, who had his sentence reduced by four months.

The court heard how Wordsworth had spent the night drinking with Kelf and was asleep in the rear of the car when Kelf collided with Daniel as he cycled along Corton Long Lane, near Lowestoft, on March 31 last year.

After the collision the pair drove to the home of Thrower, then all three travelled to nearby Herringfleet, where they poured petrol on the car and set fire to it. They were arrested shortly afterwards.

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Last November, at Ipswich Crown Court, Kelf pleaded guilty to careless driving, perverting the course of justice, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.

Yesterday lawyers appearing for the trio argued against the lengths of their sentences on the grounds they were “manifestly excessive”, but the judges dismissed the appeals in all but Wordsworth's case.

“We have considered all the submissions with a considerable degree of anxiety,” said Lady Justice Hallett. “On one hand, a young boy has been killed in an accident caused at least in part by the driving of one of these men.

“Kelf drove off not knowing whether there was anything he could do to help. To our mind, the impact of what he did on the family is a considerable aggravating feature of this case. There can be no doubt that his conduct was serious and merited a custodial sentence.

“Wordsworth and Thrower were less culpable than Kelf. Wordsworth woke to find his friend in a state of panic. He was shocked and still drunk and it was on that basis that he went on with this dreadful plan.

“Thrower may have been younger, but he was sober and allowed himself to be dragged into this plan.

“Having considered the roles and backgrounds, we're satisfied that a sentence of 10 months custody is well within the bracket for this. But we do not see any reason to distinguish between Thrower and Wordsworth and, therefore, we quash the sentence of 14 months on Wordsworth and substitute for it a sentence of 10 months.”

Last night, Daniel Felstead's father, Tony, thanked the court for upholding the sentences.

He said: “I want to thank the judges. This is a victory for Daniel because what these boys did was despicable. Even after today this is still a living nightmare because at the end of the day we have lost our son.”