A teenager was told he will receive an almost “inevitable” custodial sentence after admitting responsibility for the death of a passenger in the car he was driving.

The warning was given by a judge to Luka Laybourn after he pleaded guilty to a charge of causing the death of Joseph Callender by dangerous driving, at Durham Crown Court today (Tuesday March 26).

Joseph, 17, was a passenger in a Ford Fiesta, driven by the defendant, which left the B6278 near Barnard Castle and collided with a tree, at Marwood, shortly after 5.20pm on Wednesday January 25, last year.

He suffered serious injuries on impact and, despite the intensive treatment he received at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, he was declared dead four days later, on Sunday January 29.

The Northern Echo: Defendant Luka Laybourn has admitted causing the death of Joseph Callender, inset, by dangerous

Durham Police’s collision investigation unit carried out lengthy inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the accident, resulting in the 19-year-old defendant being charged with causing Joseph’s death by dangerous driving.

He appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, last month, and the case was sent to the crown court, where the defendant, of Flatts Road, Barnard Castle, gave his guilty plea today.

The Northern Echo:

His counsel, Dan Cordey, asked for the case to be adjourned prior to sentence to enable the Probation Service to carry out a full background report on the defendant.

Mr Cordey said the defence team in the case is also seeking preparation of a psychiatric report on the defendant to accompany the Probation Service findings at the sentencing hearing.

“There are a number of references, but I have recently added the report by a community psychiatric nurse setting out some of the background of this young man’s mental health difficulties.

“But, having heard that, I felt a full psychiatric report is needed before he is sentenced.

“He’s entered that plea and is under no illusions about the kinds of sentence that are imposed for these type of offences, despite the request for a report.

“He’s spent a year while the case has been investigated prior to the charge being brought.”

John Crawford, prosecuting, said now the defendant has pleaded guilty he will need to be given an interim driving disqualification.

Judge Nathan Adams told Laybourn: “You now fall to be sentenced for this matter and it will almost inevitably result in a custodial sentence.

“But, it’s important the court knows as much as it can about you, given your age and your lack of convictions.

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“Co-operate in the preparation of those reports.

“In the meantime, you are banned from driving from today, and, after today, driving would be a separate criminal case.”

He bailed the defendant to return for his sentencing hearing at the court, on Friday, May 10.