Drug driver jailed for death of dad-of-four in car crash
PUBLISHED: 19:50 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 19:57 16 May 2019
An Essex drug driver who ran away after crashing his car into another, killing a father-of-four, has been jailed for five years and nine months.
Marcus Wood had been "cruising" in the Witham area with friends in his black BMW 520 and was seen smoking a cannabis joint shortly before his car mounted a grass verge and hit the oncoming Ford Fiesta driven by 39-year-old David Jones, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
After hitting Mr Jones' car, Wood made off without checking if his three passengers or Mr Jones needed help and within minutes had contacted police claiming his car had been stolen, said Peter Gair, prosecuting.
The court heard that shortly before the collision, on a single-carriageway Road at Blue Mills Hill, Wickham Bishops at around 11pm on October 10, 2018, one of 21-year-old Wood's passengers had shouted at him to slow down because she didn't feel safe.
Wood was arrested at his home in Terling and after being put into a police car he had jumped out of the vehicle but was later arrested after a chase involving the police helicopter and police dogs.
Tests later showed cannabis levels in his blood were four times the limit for driving.
It was also discovered that one of the headlights on his car was defective.
Wood, 21, of The Street, Terling, admitted causing the death of Mr Jones, of Southminster, by careless driving while the proportion of cannabis in his blood was over the specified legal limit on October 10 last year, and escaping from lawful custody.
He was jailed for five years and three months for death by careless driving and six months for escaping lawful custody, to run consecutively.
In addition to being jailed he was banned from driving for five years and 11 months.
Sentencing Wood, Judge Martyn Levett said that after running away from his car and reporting it as stolen, Wood must have walked past the Ford Fiesta where Mr Jones lay dying.
He said Wood claimed he had smoked cannabis following the collision and this made it difficult to make an accurate assessment of his degree of impairment at the time of the crash.
Anthony Waller for Wood said his client had no previous convictions and was genuinely remorseful.
"He bitterly regrets getting into the car that day," he said.
He said there was no suggestion that Wood had been driving at an excessive speed.
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He said Wood ran a village shop with his mother.
During the hearing Mr Jones' mother Diane Jones displayed a picture of her son as she and his partner Vicki read statements detailing the devastating effect his death had had on the family.
His partner said the night the police told her he had died will haunt her forever.
In a victim statement that she read to the court she said: "A piece of me died that night too. I am absolutely devastated. Dave was my best friend, my rock, my everything."
She said he had "absolutely loved" his children who now had to live their lives without their dad.
"Our world has been turned upside down. Our close happy little family has been ripped apart," she added.
Mr Jones' mother Diane Jones, who displayed a picture of her son in the courtroom, also spoke of her devastation at her "charismatic, kind and generous" son's death.
She said he was devoted to his children who considered him a "Marvel superhero", so much so that one of them had designed a Marvel character on the lid of the coffin.
In his statement Mr Jones' father Gary Jones said that his son was his life and he couldn't imagine a time when he would be able to fully enjoy his life again.
Inspector Rob Brettell of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit for Essex Police, said after the case: "Through his reckless actions, Marcus Wood has caused the death of an innocent man, depriving his family of a husband and a father.
"What makes it worse is that rather than stay at the scene to face up to what he had done, he ran off from the scene and tried to evade arrest.
"I'm just glad he finally admitted his crime and prevented Mr Jones' family from having to re-live their ordeal through a trial.
"This incident shows the devastating consequences of driving while under the influence of drugs.
"Drugs slow your reactions, distort you're your perception of space, reduce your co-ordination, and can make you drowsy.
"All these factors increase your chance of having a collision and, as this case tragically shows, the consequences can be truly heart-breaking.
"We have seen record numbers of people arrested on suspicion of drug driving in recent months and I hope this case will wake people up to the very real dangers of driving under the influence."
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