A man has been jailed for two-and-a-half-years after he crashed his car into a tree killing his friend.

James Norton, 20, of Latimer Close, Hemel Hempstead, appeared before St Albans Crown Court yesterday after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving on December 5, 2018, following a three-day trial.

Passenger Joshua Porter from Bushey was killed when Norton lost control of his red Vauxhall Corsa as the pair travelled along the eastbound carriageway of the A414 to West Herts College in Watford at around 2.15pm, on August 25, 2017.

Dash cam footage revealed Norton travelling in excess of the 70mph speed limit towards a slower vehicle ahead when he lost concentration and failed to notice until the last second.

Norton swerved to avoid a crash but lost control of his car – estimated to be travelling between 79 and 84mph – spinning off the road before hitting a tree.

Former Queens’ School student, Joshua, 18, died at the scene from his injuries. Norton was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington with serious injuries but was discharged the next day. He was 19 at the time.

Joshua, a public services student and army cadet, was described as ‘cheeky’ and ‘adventurous’ by his family. He is survived by his mother Deborah, father David, older sister Jayne and younger brother Benjamin.

In a court statement, Joshua’s mother Deborah said: “We are serving a life sentence without Joshua here. He had his whole life ahead of him with a career in the army, and later in life a wife, a family of his own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.

“There is so much more Joshua had to do in his life, as an individual and with his family, but all that was cut extremely short on the August 25, 2017. We love and miss Joshua more than anything. As each day passes without him, it’s heart-breaking. He will be forever 18.”

Joshua, a sergeant in the Combined Cadet Force, was also an explorer with 1st Hatch End Scouts and played for Fullerians Rugby Football Club in Watford, alongside his younger brother, Benjamin.

At his funeral, £740 was raised for Help for Heroes in his memory.

In addition to his sentence, Norton was also disqualified from driving for four years and two months. He will have to take an extended test before getting behind the wheel again.

PC Dale Morris, a liaison officer who supported Joshua’s family, said: “This is a really tragic case for all concerned. Joshua’s family and friends won’t see him realise his dreams and they have to suffer the pain of living without him every day.

“I want to pay tribute to the bravery they showed throughout the investigation and my thoughts are very much with them as they come to terms with the court case’s conclusion.”