Driver who caused death of pal could be out of jail in two years

Travis O'Neil
Travis O'Neil
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A driver who left his friend to die at the roadside after careering into the path of an oncoming car could walk free in two years.

James John Maughan, aged 20, was told he must serve at least half of a four-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution.

John James Maughan jailed for four years for causing death by dangerous driving

John James Maughan jailed for four years for causing death by dangerous driving

Maughan was due to stand trial for causing the death of Arbourthorne father-to-be Travis O’Neil by dangerous driving, but changed his plea to guilty as the Sheffield Crown Court hearing was about to start.

He was behind the wheel of a Suzuki jeep last November when he failed to stop at the junction of Arbourthorne Road and Eastern Avenue in Sheffield and drove into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The impact caused Travis, who was travelling in the back without a seatbelt, to be flung from the vehicle.

The court heard Maughan then sped off as witnesses tried to save the 19-year-old.

Travis, who was expecting a baby with his girlfriend Chelsea Lynch, was rushed to the Northern General Hospital but died from head injuries less than an hour later.

In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Chelsea said: “How am I going to explain to my daughter she has to grow up without a daddy?”

Michael Rawlinson, prosecuting, said: “The junction is clearly marked and there is an unobstructed view but Maughan went straight across. The Suzuki spun out of control, hit a road sign and mounted a grass verge.

“As witnesses gathered to give first aid to Mr O’Neil before emergency services arrived, the jeep reversed back off the grass verge and drove off down Arbourthorne Road.”

The jeep, bought by Travis earlier that day, was found burned out days after the crash.

Maughan, who has a three-year-old daughter of his own, insists he abandoned the vehicle on the side of a nearby road, and was not responsible for setting it on fire.

He handed himself in after South Yorkshire Police issued a public appeal for information.

In interview with detectives, he blamed NHS support worker June Jones - who was driving the Volkswagen Golf which collided with the jeep - for the crash.

Emotions ran high in the public gallery as Travis’ family and Maughan’s relatives waited for the sentence.

Michael Blakey, defending, said: “Travis was his close friend, he is devastated, and it will live with him for the rest of his life. He apologises.”

In July this year, while awaiting the court case, Maughan was jailed for 13 months for possession of an imitation offensive weapon with intent to cause alarm or distress.

Maughan, of no fixed abode, also pleaded guilty to assaulting a prison warden with a pan hot water while in custody.

He was sentenced to four years in a young offenders’ institution, of which he must serve at least two, and a five-year driving disqualification.

Judge Recorder David Gordon told him: “You will have to live with this on your conscience for the rest of your life.”