A Lancing man who was behind the wheel of a van when it hit a tree, killing a passenger, has been jailed.

Michael Everson, 32, unemployed, of Gravelly Crescent, Lancing, was sentenced after appearing at Chichester Crown Court on Tuesday, 16 February. In addition to being jailed he was banned from driving for six years and must take a mandatory driving test before regaining his licence. Everson had been at the wheel of a red Vauxhall Movano van shortly before 1am on Saturday, June 13, last year when it left the road in Offington Avenue in Salvington, Worthing, and struck a tree near its junction with Offington Drive. Passenger Samuel Frost, 27, of Chiltern Crescent, Salvington, Worthing, died at the scene. Everson and three other passengers, one of whom was Mr Frost’s twin brother, a 32-year-old man from Goring-by-Sea and a 27-year old man from East Worthing, all sustained minor injuries. Everson fled the scene on foot but was traced and arrested. Sergeant Rob Baldwin, of the Sussex Road Policing unit, said:

“Our investigation found that Michael Everson had consumed a mixture of alcohol, cocaine and cannabis in the hours prior to the collision. At the time of the collision he was also carrying four people in the front passenger seats of the van which were only designed to safely carry two people. His decision to drive the van that evening in such an intoxicated state, and with so many passengers, was highly irresponsible and ultimately led to the tragic death of Samuel Frost. The gravity of this case was further aggravated by the fact the Everson ran away from the scene in an attempt to evade responsibility for his actions.”

Sgt Baldwin added:

“It is consequences such as those seen in this case that underline why Sussex Police has a zero tolerance approach to drink and drug driving, and we will pro-actively seek to arrest and prosecute any person suspected of doing so.”

Anyone who suspects that someone is drink or drug driving is asked to contact Sussex Police, either by email on [email protected], by telephone on 101 or by text on 65999. A further option is to contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org)