Death crash driver jailed

A DRINK-DRIVER who lost control of his car in a horror crash which killed his friend has been jailed for five years. Ryan Jefferies was found guilty yesterday by a jury of causing the death of Martin Thew, a father-of-two, by his careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit.

A DRINK-DRIVER who lost control of his car in a horror crash which killed his friend has been jailed for five years.

Ryan Jefferies was found guilty yesterday by a jury of causing the death of Martin Thew, a father-of-two, by his careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit.

He lost control of his Rover 220 car on Berechurch Hall, Colchester, in August 2003, causing it to spin on a right-hand bend, overturn and crash into a tree.

Mr Thew was trapped in the car and died at the scene. Jefferies had been drinking at a works party at Colchester Mega Bowl before leaving and picking up his friend.


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Tests showed he had 45 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35.

The 29-year-old, of Magnolia Drive, Colchester, denied a charge of causing death by careless driving while over the legal drink-drive limit but was unanimously found guilty by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court.

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The court was then told Jefferies had never held a full driving licence as, despite having passed the practical test, he failed the theory test. Despite this, he had been driving for eight to nine years.

It also emerged Jefferies had been fined and disqualified from driving for 12 months in 1997 after driving with excess alcohol and without a licence.

Sentencing, Judge Anthony Goldstaup QC said Jefferies had shown a "total disrespect" of his legal obligation to hold a full driving licence.

He said: "The value of Mr Thew's life, cut short by your drunken and careless driving cannot be measured by years of punishment nor can the continued loss, grief, pain and anger of those who were close to him.

"The fact is he is dead, the reason for it is your defiance of the warnings given to you by your friends when you left the party that night to drive after you had taken alcohol."

He also banned Jefferies from driving for five years and told him he would have to take an extended road test before he could drive again.

After the accident, just after 1am in August 2003, it emerged Mr Thew, 26, of Gascoigne Road, Colchester, was a convicted criminal with a history of violence and public order offences and had spent time in jail.

As a 17-year-old, he was given an 18-month sentence for violent disorder for his part in a fight that left a soldier dead.

In August 1998 Thew wielded an axe at a student who was working in the Shell Garage in East Hill in Colchester. He pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to six years.

During the trial Jefferies had not disputed he was the car driver, that he had been over the legal alcohol limit or that his friend had died as a result of the car overturning near to the road's junction with Roman Way.

But Jefferies denied he had not been driving with due care and attention.

The prosecution in the case said Jefferies had "probably" been driving too fast as he tried to take the bend.

Examinations of the car and the road surface had ruled out the possibility they had been contributing factors to the accident.

Jefferies, who was only slightly injured in the accident, claimed to have swerved and lost control when he had seen two oncoming cars, side-by-side.

When interviewed, Jefferies said the cars had been approaching him at speeds of 80mph to 100mph with their lights on full beam.

But the jury heard that witnesses, who had been travelling in two cars that arrived at the crash within seconds, had seen no sign of the cars that Jefferies claimed to have encountered. Jefferies declined to give evidence at his trial.

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