A DRINK-driver whose car crashed into a stone wall killing his best friend has been spared an immediate prison sentence.
Robert Alexander Clark, 26, of Stanhill Lane Oswaldtwistle, was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit.
He was also sentenced to 100 hours' community punishment, banned from driving for two years and will now have to pass an extended driving test.
Preston Crown Court heard that Clark was the driver of a Subaru Imprezza rally car which crashed into a wall on Rising Bridge Road, Hasling-den, on 26 April 2005.
His best friend and passenger in the car, Matthew Saporita, 23, was killed.
Clark was found to have 154 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80.
Matthew's mum Wendy Saporita, who attended the court hearing, had sent a letter to the judge saying she did not want Clark to be sent to prison.
On the night of the accident the two friends had walked to the Stanhill Inn to have a few pints and play pool.
They had consumed alcohol to the extent that they started missing their pool shots and at last orders they left and returned to Clark's home.
Miss Tina Landale, prosecuting, said that the two men later went out in the car and at around 12.40am it collided with the wall.
No-one saw the crash but people heard a big bang and went to help.
The car was in a field and the two occupants unconscious and wearing seat belts.
Matthew was still breathing with a faint pulse.
He was cut free from the car at 1.30am but died from multiple injuries.
It took three firemen to free him from the wreckage.
The roof had to be cut off to free Clark, who was taken to hospital and a blood sample was taken at 4.30am.
Miss Landale told the court that the Subaru was travelling at 35 to 40mph and had no mechanical defects.
Clark's last memory had been drinking in the pub.
Bob Platts, defending, described the accident as "a great tragedy for both families".
He said the two families were interlinked - Matthew being the brother of Clark's partner Nicola.
Matthew would have been best man at their wedding, which had been postponed due to the court hearing
He said: "They were great friends who grew up together. Matthew's home was a second home to Robert Clark. He spent more time there than he did at home."
On the night of the tragedy Matthew and his sister had fallen out because he was making a noise on the computer and she said he would wake the children.
The scene of the accident was just a few miles away and must have happened minutes after they left the house.
Judge Lunt said Mrs Saporita felt no blame or anger towards Clark and said that if he was sent to prison the emotional trauma would become unbearable.
At the end of the hearing Judge Lunt offered her condolences to Mrs Saporita and her family for the loss of Matthew, describing him as "a lovely young man who had much to give to our world".