Macho driving led to teenager's death

Ben KendallThe family of a teenager killed by her own boyfriend as he raced his car at more than 100mph yesterday pleaded with other young drivers to slow down, saying: 'Nobody else should die like this.Ben Kendall

The family of a teenager killed by her own boyfriend as he raced his car at more than 100mph yesterday pleaded with other young drivers to slow down, saying: 'Nobody else should die like this.'

Norwich Crown Court heard how Stacey Cutts, who had been celebrating her 18th birthday when she died, had urged Tom Wright to slow down just moments before he lost control of his car on the A140 Ipswich Road in Tasburgh. After the accident, witnesses heard Wright say: 'I've killed my beautiful Stacey.'

Her family spoke of the 'pure hatred' they felt towards Wright and Jake Riseborough after seeing the pair jailed for three-and-a-half years each following the fatal race in April last year. Both admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

Speaking outside court, parents Malcolm and Susan Cutts, from Harleston, said: 'If the sentences given out today someway go to help prevent the needless loss of life caused by the actions of young and inexperienced drivers and prevent the devastation it causes to many, many people that would be such a great legacy left by our beautiful daughter Stacey.'

Andrew Baxter, Norfolk's chief crown prosecutor, said that over the past three years, 35 young male drivers had been involved in fatal crashes.

He added: 'This case again involves young drivers, driving far too quickly, beyond their skills and capabilities, with no regard at all for the safety of their passengers or other road users. They drove at grossly excessive and dangerous speeds.

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'It seems to be a consistent theme not only in Norfolk but I am sure more widely, that young male drivers between the ages of 17 to 25 are to blame for many of the accidents which the police have to attend.'

Judge Paul Downes said the case highlighted the potentially devastating consequences of 'macho driving'.

The court heard how Wright, 23, had lost control of his car as he and Riseborough, 19, raced along the A140 in a grudge match.

Miss Cutts had been for a meal in Norwich on April 25 last year to celebrate six days after her birthday. Wright had offered to drive her and friend Natalie Taylor home to Harleston. Riseborough also decided to travel back to Harleston and found himself following Wright's Toyota Celica.

Prosecutor John Farmer said there had been ill-feeling between the two men. When Riseborough overtook this 'incensed' Wright. Mr Farmer said: "It was quite clear the chase was on - this was a race."

Witnesses said the pair had been driving at speeds approaching 120mph and repeatedly carried out risky overtaking maneuvers. At times their vehicles were less than one car's length apart.

Natalie Taylor, who was also travelling in Wright's car, said that both she and Miss Cutts had asked Wright to slow down.

Seconds later his car spun out of control hitting fencing and trees next to the junction with Marlpit Lane, Tasburgh.

Wright tried to rescue her from the wrecked car but she died almost immediately.

Outside court, Miss Taylor, who suffered injuries to her head and back in the crash, said: 'We both asked him to slow down. I could see the car was doing at least 100mph and we were scared, but he didn't listen.'

The court heard that Wright, of Bury Road, Wortham, had previous convictions for speeding and careless driving while Riseborough, of St Mary's Close, Harleston, had a list of convictions including anti-social driving matters.

Matthew McNiff, for Wright, said he deeply regretted his 'stupid driving'. Mitigating for Riseborough, Stephen Spence said: 'He himself did not have an accident and he was not a direct contributor to the accident.'

Jailing them, Judge Downes said: 'If any example were needed of the dangers of macho driving by young men, this is the case. You were taking huge risks at high speeds. This was competitive racing motivated by some aggravation between the two of you.

'The sense of loss felt by the family and friends of Stacey Cutts is incalculable and it's difficult to see how they will ever recover.'

Both men were disqualified from driving for five years.

Stacey Cutts' family issued a statement after the hearing at Norwich Crown Court. They described the sentences given to Wright and Riseborough as 'nothing compared to the sentence we as a family now have to bear for the rest of our lives.'

They added: 'We cannot imagine the fear and horror that Stacey and her friend Natalie must have experienced during those frightening moments which ended our daughter's life.

'Not once have either of these so called men shown any remorse for their actions that night and we hope in some small way that they will see and try to understand the devastation they have caused to us as a family and to all that knew Stacey.

'We would like to express our heartfelt thanks for the overwhelming support and love we have received from our family and friends since the loss of our daughter and thank them for their continued support throughout this difficult time.'

The family thanked the police officers and crown prosecutors who had helped in the case.