A dangerous driver who killed three teenage friends when he smashed his car into a tree while speeding at ‘grossly excessive speed’ along country roads has been locked up.

Joshua Chapman lost control of his Alfa Romeo when he was racing back from taking the pals for a McDonald’s in rural North Yorkshire.

The 20-year-old pleaded guilty to causing the deaths by dangerous driving of Louis Banks, 17, of Healey west of Masham, Aaron Bell, 18, of Jervaulx north of Masham, and Tommy Shevels, 18, of Healey.

Darlington and Stockton Times: 18-year-old Tommy Shevels from Healey, 18-year-old Aaron Bell from Jervaulx and 17-year-old Louis Banks from Healey18-year-old Tommy Shevels from Healey, 18-year-old Aaron Bell from Jervaulx and 17-year-old Louis Banks from Healey

Devastated family members paid tribute to the three friends whose lives were all cruelly cut short by Chapman’s dangerous and reckless driving.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the three friends had been sharing messages on social media showing them being bounced around in the car minutes before the fatal collision on July 29, 2022.

The judge saw the devastating damage to Chapman’s car following the high-speed crash on the B6268 Masham Road near Thornton Watlass, south of Bedale at about 11pm.

Mark Smith, prosecuting, said the North Yorkshire man was the sole survivor of the high-speed crash which resulted in the immediate death of the three friends.

He said: “They were killed when the defendant lost control of his vehicle which was travelling at speed and left the road and collided with a mature tree.

“All the victims were pronounced dead at the scene. They each died from extensive head and chest injuries sustained in the collision.

“It appears they would have been unconscious from the point of impact and very likely died very rapidly.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Floral tributes placed at the scene of the fatal collisionFloral tributes placed at the scene of the fatal collision

Chapman, of Mosquito Garth, Bedale, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to three charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Jazmine Lee, mitigating, said her client had suffered serious head injuries but maintains that he always intended to plead guilty to the charges he was facing.

She said: “He accepts that his driving fell way below the standards and his actions have shattered the lives of all four families.”

Judge Jonathan Carroll has sentenced Chapman to nine years and four months for each charge to run concurrently after crashing his car at ‘grossly excessive speed’.

"I accept that although your driving was appalling, you did not set out to kill or seriously injure anybody.

"You have suffered very great injury yourself and will have to live with the consequences of these events for the remainder of your life.

"This case has tragic and long-term consequences both to you and your family and friends,” he said.

"You collided with a tree and killed your passengers. You had entered into a sweeping bend at a speed that was simply not possible to control and keep the car on the road.

"Photographs speak of the catastrophic damage caused - they died instantly at the scene. You suffered extremely serious injuries.

"When you were finally fit for interview, you accepted that you must have caused the deaths but were slow to admit that your driving was the cause of that."

Chapman was banned from driving for ten years and told he would need to pass an extended test before getting behind the wheel again.