A man who killed a popular teenage rugby player when he lost control of a Land Rover crashing into a ditch has been given a suspended sentence.
Kieren Shepperson (21) of Old North Road, Stilton, was driving around a series of bends on the B660, Glatton Lane, on May 24, 2017, when he lost control and rolled his Land Rover Discovery into a ditch.
Peterborough Rugby Club player Kieran Carrington-Walker (19) of Bruces Close, Conington, was sitting in the front passenger seat when the crash happened - but he was thrown from the car and suffered fatal injuries.
Today (Friday) Shepperson appeared at Peterborough Crown Court where he was given a five month sentence, suspended for 18 months after being found guilty of causing death by careless driving at a trial last month.
The court heard Shepperson and Mr Carrington-Walker had been friends since primary school. Members of both families sobbed in court throughout the hearing, while Shepperson was seen in tears and looking to the floor throughout..
A 'heartbreaking' statement from Mr Carrington-Walker's mum, Natasha Little, was read to the court, where she described how watching her son grow up as a 'privilege.
She said: "He had the kindest heart, and the best smile. He would do anything for anyone."
She said she would never be able to see her son grow up, and have a family. She talked about how he wanted to enjoy life and have family, looking forward to 'Monopoly arguments and poker losses.'
She said: "We would like justice for Kieran - he is more than just a name in a case."
Mrs Little said the family were serving 'a life sentence' as a result of the actions of Shepperson.
Other members of his family also spoke of how the loss of Mr Carrington-Walker had affected them - and also described the kind, generous and giving young man who they had known.
They also said they had not received an apology from Shepperson.
Judge Matthew Lowe, sentencing, said: "The sentence I pass should not be seen as a measure of the life of Kieran Carrington-Walker, or the pain felt by those left behind. His life was precious and had value without measure."
The court was told while Shepperson was driving the modified Discovery 'at or around' the 60mph speed limit, the speed was 'inappropriate' for the road conditions and the car.
Shepperson had only passed his driving test about eight months before, and had only had the car for a few weeks.
The car was road legal and insured, and Shepperson had not been drinking or taking drugs before the crash.
Judge Lowe said he had to apply the sentencing guidelines to the case, which said there was a starting point of 36 weeks in prison. While he said the case belonged just above the starting point, he said there were no aggravating features - while mitigating features included Shepperson's inexperience behind the wheel, and the fact Mr Carrington-Walker was his close friend.
A pre-sentence report also said Shepperson would be particularly vulnerable in prison.
Sentencing, Judge Lowe said: "On May 24 last year you did not set out to harm anyone, let alone kill your Kieran Carrington-Walker.
"You have to understand your driving fell below the required standard and that is the major cause of this and all the pain and suffering that flows from that."
Along with the suspended sentence, Shepperson was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, was disqualified from driving for two years, and ordered to carry out an extended retest before he can get behind the wheel again.
Judge Lowe said Shepperson should 'think about' the case and the consequences of it while he carries out the unpaid work.
Shepperson was also ordered to pay £1,500 costs, and was given five months to pay.
Judge Lowe praised the dignity of the families who sat through the trial and sentencing hearing.
Following the verdict, PC Simon Burgin, who investigated, said: “It’s so sad when we have to attend incidents where young and inexperienced drivers have made a mistake, resulting in tragedy.
“This is such a waste of a young life. I would urge all drivers, particularly new drivers, to always drive according to the rules and conditions of the road and be vigilant.
“We attend these kinds of incidents far too often and, as in this case, many are completely avoidable.”
Following the tragedy a memorial match was played by Peterborough Rugby Club in his memory.
At the time of the match club chairman Dick Clark said he would be missed by players and staff. He said: “Kieran was a much liked and respected member of our rugby family. Joining us as a junior player he represented the club at every junior age group up to and including colts.
“He was both passionate and enthusiastic and picked up several awards during his playing career. He also assisted with junior training in later years where his input was valued a great deal.”
Other friends described Kieran as a “true gentleman”.