Four years for Harold Hill man who abandoned friend to die in car crash

A teenager who abandoned his friend to die after a high speed crash left him pinned to the ground was locked up for four years yesterday (Thursday.)

Darren Cessford, 18, of Petersfield Avenue, Romford, was driving a stolen Toyota 4x4 with Ashlee Jones in the passenger seat when it hit a tree and flipped onto its side.

Ashlee, 16, was thrown from the vehicle which landed on his chest, and was slowly suffocating him as he pleaded for help.

Neighbours watched in horror as Cessford, then 17, left the accident in Dagnam Park Drive, Harold Hill on July 4 last year.

He handed himself in 18 hours later.

The car was stolen from a house in Harold Hill overnight on July 3.

Prosecutor Peter Clark said: “It was almost inevitably to end in catastrophe.”

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The pair had been at a party where Cessford had drunk around nine cans of strong beer, Basildon Crown Court heard.

At around 3.30am, half a mile from the burglary, they crossed a giveway sign at up to 67 miles an hour and tried to a make a sharp turn.

The car spun wildly, hitting a tree before eventually flipping onto its side, on top of Ashlee, who was pinned beneath it.

Neighbour Christopher Catchpole managed to help free Cessford from the car, who then said “help my mate.”

The pair tried in vain to push the vehicle off him and then the driver started to walk away.

“The passenger, Ashlee, said ;don’t leave me, help!’”, said Mr Catchpole.

He swore at Cessford, the court heard, and asked him “what kind of mate are you?”

The neighbours tried to reassure Ashlee that help was coming but he died before the emergency services arrived.

A packed court heard the death of Ashlee, a former army cadet with a soft, caring side, had devastated his family.

Defence counsel Natalie Sherborn read a note from Cessford in which he apologised to Ashlee’s family saying he was “in shock” when he walked away.

Judge Alan Saggerson told him could have been jailed for around nine years had he been an adult.

Cessford pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and burglary and was sent to a young offender institution for four years. He was disqualified from driving for six years