Published: 00:00, 16 March 2016
A teenager whose driving killed his girlfriend when he took a bend too fast and hit a tree has walked free.
Mentesh Mouherrem was sentenced to eight months youth custody suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.
He was banned from driving for two years and will have to take an extended test before returning to the road. He will be subject to a curfew from 7pm to 7am for four months.
Maidstone Crown Court heard he was not speeding but lost control of his Renault Clio in Shalloak Road, Broad Oak, killing 18-year-old Emily Laker.
Mouherrem, of London Road, Teynham, admitted causing death by careless driving.
The 19-year-old student, also known as Da Silva, crashed the car in the early hours of August 30 last year.
Prosecutor Eloise Marshall said Mouherrem “over-corrected” and ended up hitting the tree causing the death of front seat passenger Emily.
Mouherrem had to be cut out and was taken to a London hospital with serious injuries. Mouherrem posted a selfie on Facebook from his hospital bed, telling friends he was "still going strong".
Casey Dixon, who was in the back, escaped with minor injuries.
The road was shut for eight hours after the crash at 12.20am.
The court was packed with family and friends of both Mouherrem and Miss Laker, who sat on either side of the court and left separately.
There were gasps and tears from the victim’s family and friends when Judge Julian Smith passed the suspended sentence.
“Tragic consequences follow after the collision with the tree, which is literally two yards off the road. In other circumstances it would have been a moment and no more,” he said.
The court heard that Mouherrem had earlier been to a house party in Faversham but there was no suggestion of him being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.
He left the party during the evening with Mr Dixon to give a friend a lift to Herne Bay. On the way they collected Emily from Tyler Hill where she was working.
He took her to her home so that she could change to go to the party. Tragically, they did not make it.
Mouherrem drove along Broad Oak Road before going downhill on Shalloak Road towards the right-hand bend.
Miss Marshall said although the limit was 60mph the speed to take the bend safely should be considerably lower.
“In any event it is unlikely he was travelling over the limit,” she said. “Clearly, however, he was travelling too fast for the bend.”
Mouherrem, described as a “naive driver” because of his inexperience, had a speed box fitted as part of his insurance, which suggested he was driving under 60mph.
The loss of control was called “lift-off oversteering”. Deceleration or braking after going into the bed too fast caused the back to lift off.
"This is a very sad case, where a young lady whose whole life was ahead of her was cut tragically short" - Sergeant Chris Wade
Other drivers described the car turn in the road as it as it came towards them. It narrowly missed one car on the other side of the road before returning to the correct side and hitting the tree.
Miss Marshall said emergency services attended quickly but Emily died from multiple injuries at the scene.
Mouherrem was taken to King’s College Hospital and treated for a broken jaw and hip and punctured lung.
When later interviewed, he made no comment. He gave a prepared statement saying the crash was not clear in his mind.
Mr Dixon said there was nothing remarkable about his friend’s driving. He was not aware of any problems until he heard Emily shout.
Judge Smith said victim impact statements showed Emily possessed qualities and character which made it clear it was a privilege and pleasure to know her.
He emphasised: “This case and the sentence of this court could not ever measure that life or that loss and the punishment that must follow does not attempt to do so.”
The judge said there was no suggestion of alcohol or drug misuse featuring in the case, which was significant.
"Had there been any driving that could be described as excessive in manner or inappropriate, or any impairment through drink or drugs... my view of the offence would be different," he continued.
Judge Smith accepted Mouherrem had shown genuine and profound remorse.
Commenting on the case, police crash specialist Sgt Chris Wade said: “This is a very sad case, where a young lady whose whole life was ahead of her was cut tragically short.
“While it appears that Mouherrem was driving within the legal speed limit, he was not driving according to the road conditions.
“When you get behind the wheel of a car you have a responsibility to drive in a safe and sensible manner for your own protection, and for that of your passengers, other road users and pedestrians."