A man from Haywards Heath has been jailed after causing the death of a 22-year-old man.

Sean Denham, 48, of Allen Road, was driving a HGV in August 2016, which collided with the victim, Mark O’Donnell in Portsmouth Road.

Denham then failed to stop at the scene, and later stated in court he thought he had hit a roll of carpet or rubbish.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison, and will be the subject of a 12 month supervision order on licence after his release.

He was also disqualified from driving for two years, four and a half months.

In a statement read out in court, the family of Mark O’Donnell said:

“We saw our son two nights before he was killed.

“Little did we know it was to be the last time we saw him alive.

“Thankfully it was a night of fun and laughter.

“Our family celebrated his mother’s 50th birthday at home with a BBQ.

“Having just passed his driving test Mark delighted in telling us about his first car, his commute to work, his new freedom.

“All the time quietly assuring his mother he was being careful.

“Mark knew how to ease the worries of others.

“He told us of the planned future trips abroad and the new apartment he was going to move into with friends.

“That night we were as happy as a family could be.

“As a father I was thrilled with the man my son had become.

“I was content, a word I can only truly appreciate now.

“He had developed into the man I wished and hoped he would be.

“He was never in any trouble.

“He was very intelligent but never aloof, always patient and forgiving, honest and open.

“He was easy going, happy, friendly, and kind; with an empathy and personality that endeared him to everybody he met.

“We were lucky parents.

“Two days later our family was violently torn apart.”

Denham was found guilty of causing death by careless driving following a trial at Guildford Crown Court last month.

Sergeant JP Davis said:

“This was a terrible tragedy which led to the death of a young man, whose family remain in our thoughts.

“It was entirely preventable on what is one of the most well-lit sections of that road, despite it being dark at the time of day it happened.

“This was a long and complex investigation as initially we did not have a suspect or any evidence, as Denham had failed to stop at the scene, and there were no witnesses, despite an appeal being made at the time.

“However, we were able to identify the lorry and eventually the driver after viewing extensive amounts of CCTV footage, house to house enquiries, and forensic analysis.”