Hampshire Driver Jailed Over Teenagers' Crash Deaths

11 September 2015, 17:30 | Updated: 11 September 2015, 17:31

A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to six years and nine months in prison after admitting causing the death of two teenage girls when he lost control of the car he was driving on a road in Lyndhurst last December.

 James Jack Battrick, of Romsey Road, Cadnam, was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court having pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by careless driving while unfit through drink and drugs.

The fatal collision occurred at 12:01am on Saturday, December 13, on Gosport Lane, Lyndhurst, immediately adjacent to the entrance of Vernalls Farm, and just a short distance from the fork which leads on to the A337 towards Brockenhurst.

The car, a Mazda RX8, left the carriageway, collided with a wall and impacted head on with a brick-built gate pillar.

Abbey Rogers and Lily Butterfield-Godwin, who were 19 and were born on the same day, died at the scene.

A further passenger, 19-year-old Kimberley Sellman, was also seriously injured.

Battrick was found to be driving in excess of the drink/drive limit and his blood showed the presence of high levels of cannabis.

During the ensuing investigation, officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit also determined that the car headlights were switched off at the time of the crash, and in the hours immediately before the collision Battrick had consumed a minimum of  five pints of cider in pubs in Lyndhurst.

Following an evening out in Lyndhurst, the three young women got into Battrick's car as it left the Working Man's Club car park. Battrick then drove it at speed along Gosport Lane, before the collision occurred.

The crashed vehicle was discovered minutes later by local residents who had heard a loud noise, and alerted emergency services who arrived at the scene shortly after.

Sergeant Adrienne Jerram, senior investigating officer for Operation Marne, said:

"The High levels of alcohol and cannabis together in Battrick's bloodstream caused serious impairment which undoubtedly was a massive contributary factor in this collision, which claimed the lives of two young women, permanently impacted the life of a third, and left all those families affected completely devastated.

"Lily and Abbey were friends who were born and died on the same day. This collision was a terrible tragedy caused by the mindless actions of a young driver who should never have gotten behind the wheel that night.

"Young people in particular need to be aware that the combination of alcohol and drugs, in this case cannabis, can seriously affect a person's judgement, awarness, and physical driving ability.

"If Battrick hadn't been drinking, or smoking cannabis that day, there is every chance that Lily and Abbey would still be with us.

"I hope this sentence today serves as a very stark reminder. Our message is a very simple one: do not drink or take drugs and drive. Nothing is worth that risk and, like Battrick, you would have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life."

Following the sentence, Simon Jones, Senior Crown Advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex said:

“James Battrick’s irresponsible behaviour led to the deaths of Lily Butterfield-Godwin and Abbey Rogers, who were both best friends. He also caused serious injuries to himself and to a third female passenger who fortunately survived this terrible collision.

“James Battrick had drunk a number of alcoholic drinks and also had a high level of cannabis in his system. After having consumed a large amount of alcohol and cannabis, he should have never been behind the wheel, however he offered the two girls a lift home.”

“He was driving significantly higher than the 30mph speed limit, at night time without his lights illuminated and the passenger who survived the crash said that he was showing off”.

“By virtue of his guilty plea he accepted responsibility for his conduct and the devastating consequences. Our  thoughts are with the families of Lily and Abbey.”