Drunk driver who took selfies jailed for causing two deaths

11 hours ago

By Duncan LeatherdaleBBC North East & Cumbria

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Zackary Blades and his aunt Karlene Warner were killed in a crash caused by drunk driver Darryl Anderson

A driver who killed a baby boy and his aunt in a horror motorway crash has been jailed for more than 17 years.

Darryl Anderson, 38, was drunk and taking pictures of himself driving at more than 140mph when he crashed on the A1(M) in County Durham on 31 May.

Eight-month-old Zackary Blades and Karlene Warner, 30, who were passengers in the car he rammed into, were killed instantly, Durham Crown Court heard.

Anderson, from Rotherham, who admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, initially told police his Audi Q5 was being driven by a hitchhiker he had picked up.

Watch killer driver claim “mistakes happen”

Prosecutor Emma Dowling said Zackary’s mother Shalorna Warner had taken her sleeping son with her when she went to collect her sister Karlene from Newcastle Airport in the early hours of 31 May.

Anderson, of Clarell Walk in Thorpe Hesley, had also arrived at Newcastle Airport from a holiday which his wife had left early due to his “erratic behaviour”, Ms Dowling said.

He collected his Audi Q5 from the airport where a staff member smelled alcohol on him.

Anderson told the worker his wife had left him on holiday but he was going to Bradford to get another one, Ms Dowling said.

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Darryl Anderson admitted causing death by dangerous driving

Due to roadworks on the A1, southbound traffic was diverted through the centre of Newcastle where cameras showed Anderson was about five minutes behind the Peugeot he would crash into.

Witnesses on the Felling Bypass said he was was speeding and overtaking cars, with one person saying he was driving like a “bloody idiot”, Ms Dowling said.

At 03:17, about four miles south of Chester-le-Street, Anderson slammed into the back of the Peugeot while taking a picture of himself driving at more than double the 70mph speed limit, the court heard.

“The back of [Ms Warner’s] vehicle was so crushed there was no longer a back to the vehicle,” Ms Dowling said.

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Zackary’s parents Jack Blades and Shalorna Warner said their son was just starting to learn to walk

Shalorna Warner said they were in the car chatting about her sister’s holiday when “all of a sudden there was an ear-splitting bang” and the vehicle was spinning.

She said the back of her car was “completely crushed” and “gone” and she faced a frantic search to find her son until a lorry driver spotted him lying in the road.

Ms Warner said he had been flung 164ft (50m) and suffered catastrophic injuries, while her sister had broken almost every bone in her body.

Jack Blades, Zackary’s dad, said there was “no chance in hell they were coming out of there alive”.

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Darryl Anderson crashed his Audi Q5 after leaving Newcastle Airport

Anderson himself emerged unscathed from the wreckage and told police at the scene he was sorry, before a breath test found he had 95mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

He was taken to hospital as a precaution where he was “joking” and “flirting” with nurses, the court heard, and refused to give a blood sample as he claimed he was afraid of needles, despite his many tattoos.

Anderson declined to comment in his first interview, then gave officers a “wholly false account” that he had picked up a hitchhiker who was driving his car, Ms Dowling said.

Listen to A1(M) killer driver’s hitchhiker lie

He also told police he was “sorry people had died” but it was “not nice for him to witness” and he “hoped the police would catch the driver”.

Officers did investigate his claim, but could prove he was the driver as his DNA was found on the steering wheel airbag.

Ms Dowling said he had previous convictions including for drinking and driving in 2006.

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Karlene Warner’s family said she was excited to start a new job as a flight attendant

Zackary’s parents said their son was just starting to stand up by himself and had been saying “mamma”.

Ms Warner said it did not feel real and it was like “living someone else’s nightmare”.

She said Anderson had been “cocky and arrogant” and it was a “measure of who he was” that he only thought of himself.

Ms Warner’s parents Nigel and Alison said there was an “emptiness” for them and their other two daughters.

Alison Warner said Anderson “decided to kill people” through the choices he made and had fired a “bullet” right through the heart of their family.

Nigel Warner told the court Anderson was a “vile man” who was “driving a killing machine”, adding his daughter and grandson had “no choice about what was to happen to them”.

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Zackary Blades’ life was only just beginning when he was killed, his family said

Judge Joanne Kidd said Karlene Warner was an “exceptional” daughter, partner and friend on the cusp of a whole new chapter in her life”, while Zackary was “so cherished” and a “beautiful addition” to the whole family.

She said the picture Anderson took of his dashboard before the crash was “chilling”, while photographs of the aftermath were the “stuff of nightmares”.

Judge Kidd said Anderson, who had travelled about 20 miles (32km) of his intended journey, “played Russian roulette with the lives of every man, woman and child” he passed, adding his “aggressive and entitled” driving made a catastrophic collision with other people inevitable.

Anderson was jailed for 17 years and three months, banned from driving for 21 and a half years and will need to pass an extended test before he can apply for a licence.

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