Jack Buckley detained for killing friend Ryan Morrell in car blaze

Posted under Prosecution on 19 Feb 2014

A teenager who killed his friend by accidentally setting fire to a car has been given a three-year custodial sentence.

Jack Buckley, 18, drunkenly broke a car window and dropped a lit cigarette lighter inside while using it to search for cannabis and other possessions.

He did not realise his friend Ryan Morrell, 18, was sleeping in the car because it was dark.

Buckley, of Swan Close, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, admitted manslaughter.

Sentencing Buckley at Lincoln Crown Court, Judge Michael Heath said it was “a very unusual and tragic case”.

“I accept that you are genuinely remorseful for what happened and you continue to struggle to cope with the enormity of what occurred, which led to your friend’s life being lost and his family being deprived of a much-loved son,” he said.

Judge Heath said it was of enormous significance that the fire was started accidentally, but also enormously significant that Buckley took no steps to put it out.

Buckley will serve the sentence in a young offender institution.

Firefighters found Mr Morrell’s body in the car in Washstones Lane, Frisby on the Wreake, Leicestershire, in the early hours of 7 July.

He and Buckley had gone to the nearby Fristock festival with friends the previous evening.

They parked outside the festival because they did not want to pay, and got in through a gap in the hedge.

They had not taken any camping equipment, and Mr Morrell could not drive home because he had been drinking alcohol.

After Buckley accidentally set the car on fire, one of his friends was seen running around shouting: “My boy is in the car! He’s burning! My boy!”

But Judge Heath accepted Buckley’s basis of plea that nobody knew there was anybody in the car.

Mr Morrell’s body had extensive burns when he was found, but a post-mortem examination showed he died from inhaling the products of combustion.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Morrell’s mother said she was “devastated” when the body was confirmed as her son.

In mitigation, Buckley’s barrister Ian Jobling said: “Mr Buckley feels he has got a life sentence because he is always going to be aware of the fact that he has caused the death of one of his closest friends.”

Source: bbc.co.uk