Teenager killed passenger crashing 4×4 he bought for £100, court hears

Teenager, 17, who never had driving lessons killed passenger, 18, after he lost control of ‘unroadworthy’ 4×4 he bought for £100 the day before, court hears

  • Dylan Brunton bought the Daihatsu Terios Tracker with no valid MOT for £100 
  • He crashed it while carrying passengers near Tanfield Village in June last year
  • Passenger Andrew Rowlands, 18, was killed in crash, Durham Crown Court heard
  • Brunton, 18, and two other passengers fled the scene of the incident on the A692
  • He was found guilty of causing death by careless driving and also admitted other charges of failing to stop after an accident, no insurance and no licence 

A teenager who had never had a driving lesson lost control of an unroadworthy 4×4 vehicle branded a ‘death-trap’ and caused a crash which threw a passenger to his death.

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

His victim was ejected from the vehicle and suffered serious head injuries before Brunton fled the scene. Medics 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 had no valid MOT, has since been branded ‘dangerous’ and unroadworthy.

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

But his erratic driving drew the attention of an off-duty police officer who saw the vehicle, which did not have a rear registration plate, swaying and weaving along the road.

The officer stopped the car and spoke to Brunton, who assured him it was ‘legitimate’, and that he would replace the missing plate. 

The officer briefly lost sight of the vehicle, Durham Crown Court heard, but a short time later he came across the scene of a crash. 

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

Dylan Brunton, then aged 17, bought the Daihatsu Terios Tracker, with no valid MOT, for £100 the day before he crashed it on the A692 near Tanfield Village, Durham Crown Court heard

Passenger Andrew Rowlands was ejected from the car when it flipped and was found lying unconscious on the road. The 18-year-old (pictured) died later that day having suffered a fractured skull and multiple other serious injuries

Rear-seat passenger Andrew Rowlands had been ejected from the car as it flipped, Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, told the court. 

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

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 declared dead later that day. 

The court heard he had suffered a fractured skull and multiple other serious injuries in the crash. 

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

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

Miss Atkinson said Brunton and a male passenger were detained 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 all three attended hospital, but none suffered serious injury.

Miss Atkinson said inspection of the vehicle revealed a number of major defects, two classed as ‘dangerous’, that would have failed an MOT and which would have made it difficult to keep under control.

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

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

The now 18-year-old defendant was sent to the crown court for sentence.

David Lamb, mitigating, spoke of Brunton’s ‘deep remorse’, adding: ‘It’s clear this defendant deeply wishes he could turn the clock back to June 17 last year, the day on which he purchased the vehicle in question, which he was to drive the following day, on which Andrew was killed.’

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 that he was, ‘deeply sorry’, and that he would, ‘never forgive himself.’

Judge Adkin said: ‘The vehicle was in a dreadful condition and clearly not roadworthy.

‘It was manifestly dangerous driving as it was obvious to anyone it was a death-trap.’

He said following the accident, Brunton took the, ‘cowardly decision to run off, more concerned with escaping responsibility for what happened.’

Imposing a 32-month sentence in a young offenders’ institution, he told Brunton, a roofer, that he considered himself, ‘above the law’ for driving such a vehicle without having passed a test or even having had a driving lesson.

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

Sergeant Catherine Iley, of Durham Police’s fatal collision investigation team, said: ‘This tragic case, which resulted in Andrew Rowlands losing his life, highlights the dangers of using and driving vehicles which are not roadworthy.

‘The vehicle driven by Brunton had a number of safety critical faults making it a danger to both the 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 a failure to do so would leave them liable to prosecution or, as in this case, result in a tragic loss of life.

‘The majority of road traffic collisions are preventable and keeping a vehicle maintained goes some way towards reducing risk and maintaining the safety of other road users.

‘Had this vehicle been maintained, the loss of Andrew’s life may well have been prevented.’

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