Driving lesson

Teenage boy who never took driving lessons killed passenger by crashing 4×4 he bought for £100, court hears

A teenager who had never taken a driving lesson lost control of a badly-driving 4×4 vehicle described as a “death trap” and caused an accident which killed a passenger.

Dylan Brunton, then 17, killed passenger Andrew Rowlands when his dangerous driving caused the car to flip over.

His victim was thrown from the vehicle and suffered serious head injuries before Brunton fled. Doctors were unable to save the 18-year-old from Consett.

Brunton bought the Daihatsu Terios Tracker for £100 the day before the crash.

The vehicle, which did not have a valid inspection, has since been described as “dangerous” and unfit for circulation.

Despite this, Brunton set off for a walk around a disused quarry site carrying three passengers on June 18 last year.

But its erratic driving caught the attention of an off-duty police officer who saw the vehicle, which had no rear license plate, swaying and snaking along the road.

The officer stopped the car and spoke to Brunton, who assured him it was “legit” and that he would replace the missing plate.

The officer briefly lost sight of the vehicle, Durham Crown Court heard, but soon after came across the scene of an accident.

The Daihatsu was found straddling a fence post on a right-hand bend outside Low Barcusclose Farm on the A692 Crookgate Bank near the village of Tanfield.

Dylan Brunton, then 17, bought the Daihatsu Terios Tracker, without a valid MOT, for £100 the day before he crashed on the A692 near Tanfield Village, Durham Crown Court heard

Passenger Andrew Rowlands was ejected from the car when it rolled over and was found lying unconscious in the road.  The 18-year-old (pictured) died later that day after suffering a fractured skull and several other serious injuries.

Passenger Andrew Rowlands was ejected from the car when it rolled over and was found lying unconscious in the road. The 18-year-old (pictured) died later that day after suffering a fractured skull and several other serious injuries.

Rear passenger Andrew Rowlands had been ejected from the car as it rolled over, prosecutor Emma Atkinson told the court.

The 18-year-old was found lying unconscious on the road, while Brunton and two other passengers in the car fled.

Miss Atkinson said other passers-by stopped at the scene until emergency services arrived to take Mr Rowlands to hospital.

But “despite extensive medical and surgical intervention”, the 18-year-old was pronounced dead later that day.

The court heard he suffered a fractured skull and several other serious injuries in the accident.

Brunton, now 18, of Dene View, East Stanley, (pictured) denied causing the death by careless driving but was convicted in a recent trial in youth court  He admitted to other charges of failing to stop after an accident, no insurance and no license

Brunton, now 18, of Dene View, East Stanley, (pictured) denied causing the death by careless driving but was convicted in a recent trial in youth court He admitted to other charges of failing to stop after an accident, no insurance and no license

Judge James Adkin said the victim impact statements of Mr Rowlands’ parents and sister made ‘exceptionally difficult reading’ but felt it would be unfair for them to read ‘such raw material’ .

Miss Atkinson said Brunton and a passenger were arrested as they fled across a field, while a female passenger walked away to nearby Tanfield where she rang for a lift.

The court was told that all three went to hospital, but none suffered serious injuries.

Miss Atkinson said inspection of the vehicle revealed a number of major faults, including two classified as ‘dangerous’, which would have failed a technical check and made it difficult to check.

Brunton, of Dene View, East Stanley, denied causing the death by careless driving, but was convicted in a recent trial in youth court.

He admitted other charges of failing to stop after an accident, no insurance and no license.

The accused, now 18, was sent back to Crown Court to face sentencing.

David Lamb, mitigating, spoke of Brunton’s ‘deep remorse’, adding: ‘It is clear that this defendant deeply wishes he could go back to June 17 of last year, the day he purchased the vehicle in question, that he was to drive the next day, where Andrew was killed.

Brunton has now been sent to Crown Court (pictured Teesside Crown and County Court in Durham, stock image) for sentencing

Brunton has now been sent to Crown Court (pictured Teesside Crown and County Court in Durham, stock image) for sentencing

Mr Lamb also read a letter to the Rowlands’ family expressing he was ‘deeply sorry’ and would ‘never forgive himself’.

Judge Adkin said: ‘The vehicle was in appalling condition and was obviously not roadworthy.

“It was clearly dangerous driving as it was obvious to everyone that it was a death trap.”

He said that following the crash, Brunton made the “cowardly decision to run away, more concerned with escaping responsibility for what happened”.

Sentencing a 32-month sentence in a young offenders facility, he told Brunton, a roofer, he considered himself ‘above the law’ for driving such a vehicle without passing a test or even following up. driving lessons.

He was also banned from circulation for three years and four months.

Sergeant Catherine Iley, of Durham Police’s Fatal Collision Investigation Team, said: ‘This tragic case, which claimed the life of Andrew Rowlands, highlights the dangers of using and driving vehicles that are not roadworthy.

“The vehicle Brunton was driving had a number of safety-critical flaws which made it a hazard to occupants and other road users.

“We would like to remind all drivers that it is their responsibility to check and maintain the vehicles they drive, as failure to do so will expose them to prosecution or, as in this case, result in a tragic loss of life.

“The majority of road collisions are preventable and maintaining a vehicle goes some way to reducing risk and keeping other road users safe.

“If this vehicle had been maintained, Andrew’s death could well have been avoided.”