By IH 12/03 Updated: 12/03 14:04
A DRUNKEN driver who killed an elderly couple when he lost control of a high-powered BMW coupe and crashed broadside into their oncoming car has been jailed for six years.
Lee McGuigan, 37, of Spinney Hill, Warwick, who had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing the death of 89-year-old Ellen Breakwell by careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit, was also disqualified for six years.
His plea of not guilty to an identical charge of causing the death of her 95-year-old husband George, who died a week after the crash on 5 September 2010, was accepted.
The couple, known as Marge and Len, were on their way from their home in Birmingham, for Sunday lunch with their son John and his family at his home in Long Itchington.
Len was driving their almost-new Ford Focus when, as they headed along Bericote Road, near Leamington, they were confronted by an out-of-control BMW on their side of the road.
As Len later told him son from his hospital bed, ‘some nutter came at me sideway,’ and although he tried to steer out of its path, a collision was inevitable.
There was ‘a considerable impact,’ setting off the air bags in both cars, as a wheel from the BMW came off and flew into the Focus, trapping the elderly couple by their legs as it was pushed backwards into the hedge.
The BMW was deflected back to its own side and went up onto the verge before ending up back in the road with McGuigan, who was also badly injured, trapped inside.
Staff from the nearby Helen Ley Care Centre called the emergency services, and the couple’s son was then contacted and got to the scene before they had been cut free – and was given a ‘thumbs-up’ by his father.
The devoted couple were both rushed to University Hospital in Coventry where sadly Marge Breakwell died as a result of multiple severe injuries two days later.
Len also had severe injuries, including many fractures to his ribs and spine, but was still well enough to give the police a statement before he died, a week after the collision.
Mr Bannister said McGuigan’s plea in relation to Len had been accepted because he had died from a ruptured aneurism ‘which could have taken place at any time,’ and the post mortem could not conclusively say it was a direct result of the crash.
Witnesses at the crash scene could smell alcohol on McGuigan’s breath, and a breath test three hours later showed he was still double the legal limit.
The court heard McGuigan, of Hyde Road, Kenilworth, at the time, had previous convictions for failing to provide a specimen of breath, excess alcohol and reckless driving.
And at the time of the crash he was not insured to drive his friend’s BMW 325i coupe because although he had taken out insurance, it had been voided because he had failed to declare his motoring convictions.
An accident investigator had concluded that the BMW had been struck a kerb moments before the crash, which had caused McGuigan to lose control of it.
David Murray, defending, said references for McGuigan showed the ‘profound effect’ the tragedy had had on him and his family, and in his pre-sentence report interview McGuigan said he was devastated he had killed two people.
McGuigan had a life-threatening injury and was in hospital for more than three weeks, after which he was unable to work and his business failed and his home was repossessed.
Mr Murray added: “He suffers daily from the physical pain as a result of his injuries. He wishes to pass on his remorse and his condolences to the family of the Breakwells.
Jailing McGuigan, Recorder Christopher Tickle said: “Anything I do and any sentence I pass is not going to satisfy the victims’ family who have lost parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.”
He said he accepted it had also had a devastating effect on McGuigan’s family, with one of his children giving up her university career and another having to leave the Army because of depression.
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