A young driver who killed a college friend when he smashed his car into a tree was today found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

James Norton, of Latimer Close, Hemel Hempstead, was convicted by a jury at St Albans Crown Court of killing Joshua Porter from Bushey, who died in a crash on the A414 on August 25, 2017.

Norton, now 20, lost control of his red Vauxhall Corsa after trying to overtake a slower-moving van at around 1.45pm.

He failed to slow down or manoeuvre in time, spinning across the hard shoulder and hitting the kerb of the A414 near Hemel Hempstead.

The car wrapped around a tree, which penetrated the roof.

Joshua, 18, was confirmed dead at the scene by paramedics.

Norton, a former Marine Cadet, denied causing death by dangerous driving, but had earlier admitted the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Both men were studying public services at West Herts College in Watford.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw said Joshua’s death was "tragic and untimely”, adding: “The road is a dual carriageway. Traffic was relatively light. The defendant was in the inside lane. The weather was good as was visibility at the time.

"There was a straight section of road - giving a good view. The defendant was driving at speed and there was a slower-moving van directly ahead. Ordinarily a driver would be expected to notice and slow down or manoeuvre.

"Mr Norton failed to react to the presence of the van. He left it very late indeed. He either swerved or moved the Corsa into lane two at the last moment and narrowly avoided a collision."

At the time, the Corsa was estimated to be travelling between 79.3 and 84.6 miles per hour.

The jury was played dashcam footage from the Corsa Norton was driving, which also recorded the music playing inside the car.

After the crash, Norton left the car with blood on him and was treated in hospital.

He gave a negative breath test and said he was fit and well to police. He also said there was good visibility on the road and that he was concentrating.

He added: “'I was driving, that's all I remember. I don't know why I changed lane late."

In the witness box he said Joshua had stayed at his home overnight and they were driving to college with music playing through Norton's mobile phone.

He said: "I'd just like to say Josh was a really good friend who was always there for me."

Joshua’s mother Deborah said of her son: "He had his head screwed on and he knew what he wanted and where he was going.

"He was an outgoing, lively and bubbly person who had his whole life ahead of him."

Judge Michael Kay QC adjourned sentence until January 7 telling Norton a custody sentence was very likely.