Driver jailed for killing 16-year-old passenger in tree stump crash

A car cruise driver has been jailed for killing his 16-year-old passenger after he lost control on a bend and hit a tree stump.

Jordan Sturcbecher has just overtaken a friend’s car and was driving too fast on a country road when he killed his friend Brandon Martin.

The teenager was killed as the Toyota Celica came off the Cullompton to Willand road at 1.50 am as Sturcbecher drove at 70 mph in a 40-mph zone.

Sturcbecher and Brandon had both been to an informal meeting of car enthusiasts known as a car cruise in Exeter earlier it the evening and had gone out for a final spin on the A 3181 after returning to Cullompton where they both lived.

Brandon’s heartbroken family wrote a series of tragic victim impact statements in which they told how his loss has left them shattered.

Brandon Martin, who died in a car crash in Cullompton
Brandon Martin, who died in a car crash in Cullompton

His mother Helen said: “Losing him broke our hearts. I know our lives will never be the same again. There will never be another Brandon, he was a cheeky young man who lit up our day.

“To lose him at just 16 has devastated us. The weight crushes us with every beat of our hearts. We woke every day to find that our child is gone forever. We have lost our angel.”

Brandon had just left school and was working at the Diggerland tourist attraction at the time of his death. He was fascinated by cars and was customising his own Honda Civic in readiness for taking his driving test when he was 17.

Sturcbecher, aged 20, of Orchard Way, Cullompton, admitted causing Jordan’s death by dangerous driving and was jailed for 18 months and banned from driving for three years by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

Tributes were left at the scene of the crash

He told him: ”The bottom line is that you were travelling far too fast in approaching that blind bend. Any motor vehicle can be a lethal hazard unless it is driven safely and carefully.

“Every driver takes a significant responsibility every time they get behind a wheel to drive safely and not to drive riskily, given the foreseeably dreadful consequences that might flow from risky driving.

“Inexperienced or not, the recklessness of your approach to that bend was plain. You may have been overconfident, about your ability to handle the car, as many young men are, but that the mitigating power of that is small.”

Mr Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said Brandon, his older brother Lewis, their girlfriends, Sturcbecher and a friend named James Hodgson had all been to a car cruise in Exeter on the night of Saturday October 20 last year.

They returned to Cullompton and Mr Hodgson and Sturcbecher went for another drive which ended in the crash at Five Bridges at 1.50 am on the Sunday morning.

Mr Hodgson’s Corsa had been ahead of Sturcbecher as they approached Diggerland but he accelerated and crossed a solid white line to overtake as they approached a sharp right-hand corner.

Sturcbecher braked hard and as he entered the corner at 70 mph and the car span and went up a bank, where the passenger side collided with a tree stump.

Brandon’s girlfriend Jasmine Conn was in Mr Hodgson’s car and witnessed the crash. Lewis Martin arrived soon afterwards and called out his parents, who found the road sealed off by the emergency services.

Brandon was declared dead at the scene and both he and Sturcbecher had to be cut from the wreckage by the fire service. Lewis told police he knew the crash was fatal because of the massive damage to the Toyota.

Mr Peter Coombe, defending, said Sturcbecher told rescuers to free Brandon before him and will regret his driving for the rest of his life.

He said Sturcbecher was only 18 at the time of the accident and was an inexperienced driver who had misread the road markings because they were worn.

Devon Live