Man jailed for causing death by dangerous driving on A11 near Hethersett despite plea from son of victim

A man who admitted causing death by dangerous driving has been jailed despite an unusual plea from the son of the 76-year-old victim not to impose a custodial sentence as he did not want to see 'more lives ruined'.

Derek Hannant, from Norwich, was a passenger in a car which lost control on the A11 near Hethersett and rolled down an embankment. He died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash at about 2.15pm on December 28 last year.

Andrew Spurgeon, 28, from Willow Court, Attleborough, the driver of the silver Volkswagen Golf GTI, appeared at Norwich Crown Court to be sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty to the charge at a previous hearing.

The court heard that Spurgeon had been close friends with the victim and Michael Clare, mitigating, said the victim's son, Paul, had come to court to support the defendant.

Mr Clare said that, Mr Hannant did not want, having lost his father, did not want to see more lives 'ruined by the defendant going to prison'.

He asked the judge to consider numerous references given on Spurgeon's behalf - including Mr Hannant's letter, as well as giving him credit for his guilty plea and the genuine remorse he has shown.

He said: 'He's lost a friend and since the incident has been prescribed anti-depressants and had to come to terms with what he's done.'

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Judge Peter Jacobs said: 'Sentencing defendants in your position is in my view probably the most difficult task a crown court judge has to undertake.

'The case is a personal tragedy for you. It is however a far greater personal tragedy for the relatives of Mr Hannant however much they have forgiven you.'

In sentencing Spurgeon Judge Jacobs said, taking into account the unusual turn in this case because of the attitude of Mr Hannant's son, his guilty plea and his remorse he said two years imprisonment was the least sentence he could pass.

He said: 'Someone here lost a life and if the Criminal Justice System is not shown to take that seriously then we have a real problem in our Criminal Justice System.

'The reality is that anyone who gets into a motor car takes on a tremendous burden and risk. These are lethal weapons if driven badly or in the wrong hands.'

Spurgeon, who will have to serve half his sentence, was also banned from driving for three years and will have to take an extended re-test to regain his licence. His partner broke down and had to be helped from court.

Andrew Oliver, prosecuting, said other motorists described Spurgeon as driving 'in excess of 90mph' as he drove up to and overtook other vehicles prior to the incident.

Spurgeon eventually came up to a Polo, which at one point he looked as if he would undertake, before he pulled out and then sharply in front of the vehicle in a manoeuvre described by other road users as 'crass, highly dangerous' and 'aggressive'.

It caused the car to 'wobble' before he lost control and spun across the road 'possibly as a result of over correction' narrowly missing other cars before rolling down the embankment.

Mr Oliver said Spurgeon told police that he had swerved to avoid a brown four legged animal but added that this was not seen by any of the other road users. He also sought to blame the road surface, but the court heard the road was in a 'good state of repair'.

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