‘Foolish’ drunk driver who killed up-and-coming rapper after drinking six pints is jailed

·Freelance Writer
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Cadet performs on stage at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on November 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by C Brandon/Redferns)
Cadet performed regularly and appeared on Radio 1 (Getty)

A "foolish" van driver who killed a rising rap star following a head-on crash after drinking six pints of beer has been jailed.

Blaine Johnson - known by his stage name of Cadet - was travelling in a taxi on his way to a gig at Keele University when Jordan Birch's Vauxhall smashed into the vehicle at twice the 30mph speed limit in the early hours of February 9 last year.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Birch had been veering onto the wrong side of the A531, also known as Main Road, in Wrinehill, Staffordshire, and driving at speeds of 65-69mph after admitting he felt "a little drunk" before getting into his van.

The 23-year-old was tearful in the dock as members of Mr Johnson's family watched on from the public gallery.

Birch, of Woore, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to causing the 28-year-old grime star's death by dangerous driving and serious injury by dangerous driving to taxi driver Kashif Usman.

Jordan Birch was jailed after pleading guilty at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court (Google)
Jordan Birch was jailed after pleading guilty at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court (Google)

Prosecutor Paul Spratt said: "Mr Johnson was a much-loved brother, son and grandson and he was widely adored as a rising star of the music scene.

"He was plainly very talented as a musician and a singer. He was on the cusp of securing greater commercial success.

"From the outset, Jordan Birch has accepted that he was the driver and that he had consumed alcohol prior to driving.”

Birch was jailed for four years and eight months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Thursday.

Addressing how much alcohol Birch had drunk, Mr Spratt continued: "Mr Birch had spent the evening at two licensed premises.

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"He consumed about six pints of beer that evening.

"When he came to leave the second premises, he made the fateful decision to drive that vehicle.

"It was a conscious decision by him, and he said he felt slightly drunk as he did so.”

The court heard Mr Johnson, who was from south London, died as a result of catastrophic and significant head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  23 Unofficial performs on stage during GRM Daily Presents The Rated Legend Tribute Show In Memory Of Cadet at Brixton Academy on March 2, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns)
23 Official performs at a gig put on in memory of Cadet at Brixton Academy after he was killed (Getty)

Birch also suffered a punctured lung and a broken leg as a result of the crash.

Sentencing Birch on Thursday, Judge David Fletcher said: "This was an aberration. An aberration it may be, but the consequences were catastrophic.”

Before jailing Birch, the judge turned to Mr Johnson's family and said: "As a father, I simply cannot imagine what you are going through.”

Judge Fletcher said he had listened to some of the rapper's work and described it as "very impressive”.

Defence barrister Peter Cooper, representing Birch, said the defendant was "full of remorse”, adding: "Mr Birch does not look forward to prison, but he knows that he deserves it.”

After serving his prison sentence, Birch will also begin a two-year driving ban and must take an extended driving test before having his licence returned.

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