Great Britain

Drug driver, 34, who mowed down and killed teen, 13, while high on cocaine and speeding in Audi TT is caged

A DRUG driver who mowed down and killed a 13-year-old boy while high on cocaine in an Audi TT was today jailed for almost seven years.

James Lavine, 34, was speeding on a 40mph road when he struck Max Simmons in Maidenhead, Berks, on December 21 last year.

The youngster was thrown forward 80ft and landed on a grass verge at the side of the road and later died in hospital.

Lavine, who was more than five times the legal limit for the breakdown product of cocaine when he killed the youngster, was today confronted by a group of 30 protesters outside court demanding justice for Max.

The tragic teen’s mum even went into the witness box to look Lavine in the eye and said: "Stand up and be a man, something Max was looking forward to being and now something I will never get to see."

Family members also read out searing victim impact statements outlining their agony following the death of the "loving and funny" teenager.

HEARTBROKEN FAMILY

Judge Angela Morris heard Lavine was speeding in a red Audi TT when he killed the youngster as he tried to cross the road.

Shortly before the crash, a couple had seen Lavine's car driving at approximately 70mph along the road, his speed being such that the couple had started gesticulating at him to try and encourage him to slow down.

The court heard the woman later wrote on Facebook: "I hope it is only yourselves you kill and no innocent persons."

Abigail Husbands, prosecuting, told Reading Crown Court: "Max was thrown up and impacted the offside windscreen, causing significant injury.

“He was thrown forward and landed on the tarmac and rolled onto the verge about 25 metres from where he was hit.”

Lavine was arrested and later tested positive for having 252mcg of Benzoylecgonine, a breakdown product of cocaine, over five times the legal limit of 50mcg.

He also had traces of cocaine, Cocaethylene (formed when cocaine and alcohol are mixed), three different anti-depressants and THC, indicating he had smoked cannabis, the court heard.

The defendant was recorded telling officers at the scene: "With what just happened, it was totally out of my control.

We did everything together and the older he got the less he really wanted to be with me, he just wanted to be with his friends. Little did he know, he left behind the best friend he ever had.

Max's mother, Emma Simmons

"He just ran out into the road. I feel sorry for the kid, but I really do not think I should be getting into trouble.

"Do not get me wrong, I am not a saint, but this one was genuinely an accident."

Max's mother, Emma Simmons, reading from a victim impact statement, told the court she was wearing the dress she had worn to Max's funeral and a necklace with a locket which contained her son's ashes.

She said: "I spend every waking moment thinking of him and when I have not, I start to feel guilty.

“I will never be able to watch him open the Christmas presents that he did not even know I bought him. I do not know what to do with them now.

"Max was a vibrant, caring, loving funny teenager. He was not just my son, he was my best friend.

“We did everything together and the older he got the less he really wanted to be with me, he just wanted to be with his friends. Little did he know, he left behind the best friend he ever had.

"I would do anything for my boys. If I could take Max's place I would, just so he would know how much he was loved by everyone.

"We never asked the driver to come into our lives and completely tear our world apart. He did that. He hit my son with his car and killed him.

"BEST FRIEND"

"Never once have I heard the driver say sorry. I was told he only cried when he was remanded prior to Christmas.

“He should have been asked to come to my house and see the damage it caused. Then he would have wept.

"I close my eyes and I see Max's face. That man took him from me. There is no deal to be had on the table to bring back my Max. There is no deal here today. He should be held accountable."

Prosecutors said the Audi TT car collided with Max after some braking at a speed of between 46 to 49mph, so he would have been speeding on the 40mph road before the crash.

Although the defendant had denied causing death by dangerous driving, he later admitted causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed drug limit.

Zaki Hashmi, defending, said: "On behalf of my client I do wish to ask Your Honour to take into account that Mr Lavine is truly sorry for what he has done and deeply regrets what he has done."

We never asked the driver to come into our lives and completely tear our world apart. He did that. He hit my son with his car and killed him.

Emma Simmons

The motorist had a string of previous driving convictions, including driving with excess alcohol in 2005 and 2008, driving while disqualified and uninsured in 2008, taking a vehicle without consent, driving while disqualified and driving with excess alcohol in 2009.

Ms Husbands told the court Lavine had been caught by a speed camera doing 50mph in a 30mph zone at just before 4am on December 7, just weeks before the fatal crash.

He was sent a notice of intended prosecution, to which he never responded and was convicted and sentenced for failing to nominate a driver on July 2 this year, for which he received six points on his licence.

Just five hours after the speeding incident, on December 7, Lavine was arrested on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol after his Audi collided with a wall.

He denies being the driver and was due to face a trial in the magistrates court in October, Ms Husbands said.

Judge Morris, sentencing Lavine, said: “Your previous convictions are clear indications of the entirely selfish and thoughtless attitude which you have displayed towards other road users by getting behind the wheel of a car when under the influence of drink or drugs.

"To add insult to injury, your insensitive comments about the incident being totally out of your control and you should not be getting into trouble for this, are nothing short of shameful given what your condition was at the time and the fact that you were on bail for another driving motoring offence.”

Judge Morris jailed Lavine, of Wooburn Green, Bucks, for six years and nine months and disqualified him from driving for 10 years.

A charge of causing death by dangerous driving was ordered to lie on file by the judge.

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