THE MOTHER of 16-year-old Jasmine Elkasmi said her world was ‘turned upside down’ when her daughter was killed in a car crash.
Harry Smith, 18, of Haleybridge Walk, Tangere, was sentenced to four years in prison at Chichester Crown Court today (July 21) for causing the death of the Chichester College student and former Regis School student, who lived in Rose Green and was a much-loved family member.
“Jasmine was the loud one of the house, always full of energy, extremely bubbly and the life and soul of the family,” said Angela Moody in a victim impact statement read out in court by prosecution counsel Edward Hand.
Jasmine died when the Vauxhall Corsa she was travelling in, driven by Smith, crashed on the A285 at Halnaker at 6.45am on September 21.
The court heard he was estimated to be driving between 60mph and 70mph in the 40mph zone and lost control on a corner.
Two other 16-year-old passengers in the car, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered serious injuries and Smith was handed two-year and eight-month sentences for causing serious injury by dangerous driving to the pair, all to be served concurrently.
One girl broke her spine and has been in hospital since the crash.
Smith pleaded guilty in June to all three charges.
Speaking in mitigation, Smith’s defence counsel Pierce Power said: “His first meeting with the criminal justice system is going to result in the loss of many years of his life. Richly deserved, many in the public gallery will say and that’s the reality.
“I wouldn’t disagree with them but that’s the reality of his still-young life. He’s just 18-years-old.”
He went on to say: “He’s a very different young man from this time last year. He will find his time in custody as a very difficult one.
“He didn’t go out that night to kill or injure anyone.”
Showing off to passengers
Sentencing Smith, Judge Christopher Parker QC said: “It’s difficult to avoid – on all the evidence which I’ve seen and from what I’ve been told – the inference there was an element here of you showing off to your young female passengers.”
He said he considered the fact that Smith was speeding, as well as the fact he had been awake all night driving, as reason to put the offence into a more serious sentencing category.
“You created a substantial risk of danger to your passengers and other road users,” he told Smith.
“All of these things are terrible things to lay at your door and lay at your door they will for life. The consequences of your behaviour affect an enormous number of people and forever. Whether they be the victims themselves, their families, their friends, yourself, your family and your friends.”
As well as the prison sentence, Smith was also banned from driving for four years and ordered him to take an extended re-test before holding a licence again.
He will serve half his four-year jail term in prison, before serving the second half out on licence.
Police urge caution for young drivers
Sergeant Paul Wood, from Sussex Police’s road policing unit emphasised it was extremely important for young drivers to take care on the roads.
“Smith was 17 at the time of the collision and he had only held his driving licence for about seven weeks,” he said.
“He had been stopped by police before the collision on a number of occasions due to the manner of his driving and he had been issued with a section 59 warning, which meant that if he had been stopped again, his vehicle would have been seized.
“A girl died as a result of his dangerous driving and two other girls were left with serious injuries, one of them life-changing.”
He also said: “This is about people taking the responsibilities for their actions.”
He said it was important when drivers were given warnings from police they took responsibility and used it as motivation to ‘improve their driving standards’.
To read more coverage of the sentencing, including the tragic events leading up to the crash and further comments from the judge, see Thursday’s Observer (July 24).