A member of the Honiton Young Farmers who killed his best friend in a drink-drive crash has been given a suspended jail sentence.

William Bennett was giving 23-year-old Jacob Chugg-White and three other friends a lift home after a drinking session at an East Devon pub when he crashed his car in a country lane in Dunkeswell in July last year.

Mr Chugg-White, who was known as Chuggy, was thrown out of the car as it was flipped over and he suffered catastrophic injuries that led to him being declared dead at the scene. Bennett gave a blood sample a few hours later and a back calculation showed he was over the alcohol limit.

All five of the occupants of the car were friends and members of the Honiton Young Farmers Club.

Jacob Chugg-White had trained as a builder, but gave up his trade to take up farming and had a smallholding with 100 sheep. He had won awards for his husbandry and was about to start a placement on a sheep station in New Zealand.

He was a keen sportsman who had played rugby for Sidmouth and had organised and taken part in a Honiton Young Farmers Club charity cycling event in France.

A victim impact statement written by his mother Sandra Chugg was read out at Exeter Crown Court. It said she still cries for her son every day and feels as if her heart has been ripped out. She said his loss had ruined her life.

She wrote: “I cannot describe the loss. The loneliness is unbearable. It breaks my heart every day to think Jacob was taken away through the stupidity of drinking and driving.”

Bennett, aged 24, of Broadhembury, admitted causing death by careless driving while he was over the drink-driving limit and was jailed for two years, suspended for two years, by Judge Mr Justice Saini.

He was banned from driving for five years and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work and 30 days of rehabilitation activities and undergo 120 days of monitored alcohol abstinence.

The judge told him: “These offences are always serious because someone has lost their life. Not only will Jacob’s family have to live with that for the rest of their lives but you will have to live with it as well.”

Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said Bennett is racked with remorse and wants to apologise for his actions. His remorse is so great that he has needed help for his mental health.

He and Mr Chugg-White had been best friends since school. He had tried to offer first aid at the scene but had become so upset that his parents had taken him home.

Miss Smith said the knowledge that his actions had led to the loss of his best friend is a greater punishment than anything the court could impose and he remains devastated by it.