Jail for killer driver who was over the limit

20 May 2019, 12:57 | Updated: 20 May 2019, 16:32

Tommy Whitmore

A drink-driver who drove his pick-up truck the wrong way down a slip road on to a dual carriageway and crashed head-on into a car, killing all three people inside, has been jailed for eight years and four months.

Tommy Whitmore, 26, had been warned by his girlfriend not to get behind the wheel after an evening out drinking at a restaurant then at a village hall, Cambridge Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Peter Gair said Whitmore ignored her advice to sleep in his vehicle and instead drove off three minutes after she left with her parents.

He started driving at 11.51pm on April 13 and at 11.58pm Whitmore's Ford Ranger crashed head-on into a Renault Megane on the A1139 in Peterborough, killing the three people inside.

They were driver Marko Makula, 22, his fiancee Jana Kockova, 21, who was the front seat passenger, and her 19-year-old brother Tomas Kocko, who was the rear seat passenger.

Marko and Jana, who had two children aged two and one, had been to pick up Tomas and were on their way home when the crash happened, Mr Gair said.

Their two children were being looked after at home.

Whitmore, of Stonegate in Cowbit, admitted causing the deaths of the three by dangerous driving.

He bowed his head and looked downwards as his sentence was read out, with the family of the deceased in court for Monday's hearing and assisted by an interpreter.

Judge David Farrell QC, sentencing, told Whitmore: "You made a deliberate decision to drive despite being grossly intoxicated."

He said this resulted in Whitmore being "unable to read the road and signs which would have been obvious to a sober driver".

Mr Gair, prosecuting, said Whitmore awoke at 3.30am on the day of offence, smoked a cannabis spliff then drove to Hitchin in Hertfordshire to work a full day at a market.

Whitmore smoked another spliff when he returned home at 7pm then went to a restaurant in Peterborough with his girlfriend, Mr Gair said.

He said Whitmore drank "two small bottles of beer" at the restaurant then went to an event at Farcet Village Hall with his girlfriend and her parents.

While at the village hall Whitmore "drank Guinness and a small amount of gin towards the end of the evening", Mr Gair said.

Blood tests later showed he had 186 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, the court heard. The legal limit is 80 milligrammes of alcohol.

Whitmore was also over the legal limit for cannabis.

Mr Gair said Whitmore drove 470 metres down the slip road and the crash happened in lane two of the dual carriageway close to the 100-yard marker for the exit slip road he had just driven down.

He said there was no suggestion Marko, who was driving the Renault Megane, had done anything wrong, adding "there was no thinking time to react".

The three in the Renault "died effectively immediately", Mr Gair said.

He added: "The defendant, who was in a larger vehicle, whilst he had some injuries it was relatively speaking very minor.

"He was able to get out of the vehicle. He stayed at the scene, he sat on the crash barrier."

The judge praised the actions of other motorists who stopped to try to help, including some who stopped on the other side of the road and crossed the central barrier.

Police arrested Whitmore at the scene.

In a victim impact statement the families of the deceased said they felt "indescribable pain" and the "mental wounds may never heal".

The court heard Whitmore had held a driving licence since 2010 and it was clean.

Claire Matthews, mitigating, said Whitmore had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

She described him as a "hard-working young man with a five-year-old daughter", adding: "This was in my submission a short piece of bad driving with catastrophic consequences."

Whitmore, who wept as he was led to the cells, was also banned from driving for nine years and two months.