A ‘NAIVE’ friend of a dangerous driver who planted the car keys on his dead passenger's body has been spared jail for giving the killer a lift from the scene.

Aaron Guest, already twice banned from driving, was high on cocaine and cannabis when he lost control of his Renault Clio at speed on a bend, struck a telegraph pole and crashed through a hedge, rolling the car and killing passenger Ben Priest.

Guest was also injured in the crash, suffering fractured ribs and a broken nose. Neither of them had been wearing seatbelts.

Guest’s friend, 25-year-old Ashley Parrish, from Dudley, admitted perverting the course of justice by giving the injured driver a lift from the scene when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Monday.

However, it was accepted by the court that Guest had lied to Parrish, telling him that Mr Priest had been driving and that he was still alive.

Before he was picked up by Parrish, 28-year-old Guest moved Mr Priest's body to make it look like he had been driving. Guest even placed the car keys in Mr Priest’s pocket.

Mr Priest, who was 23, died instantly in the fatal crash at Heightington Road near Bewdley at around 4pm on June 30 last year.

Guest admitted causing death by dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, perverting the course of public justice, driving without insurance and drug driving.

Judge Robert Juckes jailed Guest for five years and three months and banned him from driving for seven years and seven months last December - a prison sentence later lengthened by a year.

Parrish pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice on the basis he had believed Guest’s claims that Mr Priest had been driving and had crashed the car. Parrish, who was also a friend of Mr Priest, said Guest called him and asked to be picked up, told him he had checked Mr Priest’s pulse and he was still alive.

Guest also told Parrish that he was on licence from prison (which was not true) and that was why he needed to get away from the scene.

Both men were later arrested at the Blackstone picnic area, near Bewdley.

Thomas Kenning, prosecuting, said Guest was found to be 15 times the limit for cocaine and 800 times the limit for a cocaine metabolite.

Katie Fox, for Parrish, said realisation of what had happened "dawned slowly" and "took time to sink in", describing him as having learning difficulties. He had no previous convictions.

Miss Fox said of the father and Kwik Fit employee: “The defendant is put in the lowest five per cent of the population for overall functioning.”

She added: “He knew nothing of the very serious incident that had in fact happened. He puts it no higher than knowing something was up.”

Dudley News:

Miss Fox went on to describe the relationship between Guest and Parrish as "an unequal" one with Parrish playing a "subordinate role" and presenting as "gullible and naive" to the probation officer with an "unfailingly helpful" nature.

“He was obeying instructions from someone who was a powerful character,” said Miss Fox.

Judge Juckes said he thought initially he would have to pass an immediate custodial sentence but said Parrish’s part was "really an aggravating feature of what Aaron Guest himself was doing".

After reading of the background and a psychiatric report, the judge said: “He used you. It’s quite plain to me now.”

He said Guest had rung the defendant, telling him "a series of lies" which the judge accepted Parrish had believed.

Parrish assisted Guest for a period of about 15 minutes.

The judge sentenced Parrish, of Thornhill Road, Dudley, to six months in prison suspended for one year, ordered him to complete 150 hours of unpaid work in the community and pay a court surcharge of £140 and costs of £400.