Boy racer killed friend in hump-back bridge jump crash

Boy racer killed friend in hump-back bridge jump crash

A teenage driver killed a friend when he sped over a hump-back bridge to get some “air time” a court has heard.

“Boy racer” James Stephenson Cooper, 18, who passed his test just 15 days earlier, used the crossing as a ramp to “take off” in his VW Polo at 82mph.

He lost control and crashed into concrete posts and trees, fatally injuring rear-seat passenger Gavin Helps, 17, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Cooper, who admitted dangerous driving offences, received a 35-month sentence.

The court heard he had motored towards the bridge outside Rockcliffe, near Carlisle, with three young passengers.

As he sped along the damp 30mph-limit road, he asked: “Do you want some air time?”, the court heard.

An eyewitness to the crash on 22 September 2019 said they saw the car 2ft (61cm) off the ground before it rolled into a field.

Gavin was declared dead at the scene while another teenage boy fractured his vertebrae, ribs and shoulder blades and suffered a partially collapsed lung.

The court was told of video footage taken in the days leading up to the crash showed examples of Cooper’s bad driving, including a copycat move on the same bridge.

It also showed him driving at “stupid speeds”, disregarding limits and drifting, with one witness calling him a “boy racer”.

Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Barker called Cooper a “ticking bomb”.

He had used the bridge “as a ramp to take off, driving at grossly excessive speed”, the judge said.

Gavin’s mother, Claire Helps, described her son as a “popular lad” who “loved to make people laugh”.

“His loss has left an enormous void in all of our lives,” she said, adding: “It has devastated our whole family.”

Cooper – 17 at the time of the crash – admitted causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving.

Cooper, of Beaver Road, Carlisle, must also serve a four-year driving ban when released, and pass an extended test.

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