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Youth locked up for causing joy ride death

Victim's family tells of anguish at the death of Charlie Townsend, 15

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

RTA Wheatlands Ln_1

A TEENAGER who killed his friend during a joy ride was sent into custody by a judge yesterday (Thursday).
The horrific smash caused the death of 15-year-old Charlie Townsend, who had just completed his GCSE exams at Park House School, Newbury.
His devastated twin, who was also in the car, said in a victim impact statement read to the court that looking at his dying brother was “like looking at myself” and added: “Going to see him in the mortuary was the most unbearable pain I have ever experienced. Charlie was my identical twin, my best friend and soulmate...half of me died with him.”
Reading Crown Court heard how the driver, who can not be identified for legal reasons, had taken his mother’s car without permission and drove the Townsend twins plus another youth at excessive speed around 4am along Wheatlands Road in Enborne before losing control and ploughing into a tree.
Despite his friends’ desperate efforts to revive him, Charlie died at the scene from head injuries on August 4 last year.
Charlie’s 14-year-old sister Imogen said in a statement read to the court: “Charlie’s death was so sudden and unexpected I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. I miss my big brother with all my heart.”
She added: “Before, I felt safe and protected. Now I feel I have to protect my family. I can’t have fun and enjoy myself any more. I often feel I would like to be with Charlie...I can’t bear to think of him all alone.”
Charlie’s mother Georgina said in her statement: “No words can describe how precious Charlie was as a son. He was born six weeks premature - he couldn’t wait for life to start.”
She said his bond with his twin was “so strong, we can’t comprehend - they finished each other’s sentences and instinctively knew each other’s needs.”
Mrs Townsend said Charlie “had the ability to make people feel better about themselves and that gift shone through in all the cards and tributes we received.”
She recalled how her son had befriended a boy with special needs who other youths tended to ignore and that his loss was “a lead weight in our chests we carry round each day.”
All the family spoke of the dread they now felt on birthdays, anniversaries and at Christmas and Mrs Townsend recalled “hearing Ben literally howling in pain as he said goodbye to his twin.”
She went on: “We feel broken as a family and can never lead an ordinary life again. Our family has been destroyed - emotionally, financially, in every possible way.”
The car driver, who was 16 at the time, admitted causing death by dangerous driving.
He also accepted he had been driving without insurance or a licence in a vehicle he had taken without his mother’s knowledge or consent.
Sentencing the driver to 32 months’ youth custody, Judge John Reddihough said: “This case is an utter tragedy. By your completely foolhardy and dangerous actions you have snuffed out the life of a 15-year-old boy, leaving his twin brother, sister and parents completely devastated.”
For the full story, and to read fuller versions of the family’s victim impact statements, see next week’s Newbury Weekly News

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