Listen to police interview as killer driver tried to blame A1 crash on a hitchhiker in fake story

An Audi driver who killed a woman and a baby tried to blame the fatal collision on a hitchhiker in a fake story he fed to police.

Darryl Anderson was jailed for 17 years and three months at Durham Crown Court today after causing the death of eight-month-old Zackary Blades and his auntie, Karlene Warner, 30. He was also handed a 21-and-a-half year driving ban and must sit an extended retest if he wants his licence back.

The court heard that Anderson was driving at 141mph while intoxicated and using his phone before the collision on May 31. He had picked up his car from Newcastle Airport on his return from Antalya and was travelling to Yorkshire when he struck a Peugeot on the A1(M) between Chester-le-Street and Durham, which was being driven by Zackary's mum, Shalorna Warner.

Judge Jo Kidd told the court that Anderson sent Whatsapp messages during the drive, and seconds before the fatal crash he took a screenshot of his speedometer. But recordings from his police interview reveal how Anderson came up with a false story claiming he had picked up a hitchhiker en-route and let him drive the vehicle.

In the recording, released by Durham Constabulary, Anderson tells police that he drove over two roundabouts after leaving the airport before spotting "a guy flagging the journey" heading towards the A1. He said he pulled up "probably 10-15 yards past him" and asked him "What's up mate?"

Anderson, 38, claims that the man asked for a lift because he had missed his collection and was unable to get a taxi. He added that he asked the man to drive because he was "knackered" from the flight, to which the 'hitchhiker' agreed.

Anderson told police: "He wanted to pay me and I said 'tell you what, show me your licence, show me that you're relevant, because my insurance covers any driver over 21, I've got multi fleet policy so you'll be sound'."

He continued to explain that he asked the man if he had been drinking, to which he replied that he "doesn't drink, he just smokes weed". He then warned the man to "take it easy" when he was driving, he told police.

Darryl Anderson
Darryl Anderson -Credit:PA

In the recording, Anderson can be heard saying: "I jumped in [the] passenger, he's in [the] driving seat and we've set off - I think he went the wrong way to start with - and then I've just fell asleep. I've woke when we're crashing."

The court heard that Anderson was asked why there was no passenger seat belt in place and told officers the 'hitchhiker' had "wrapped it around himself". He later dropped the fake story and went on to plead guilty at court.

Sentencing Anderson, of Clarell Walk, Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, the judge said: "You played Russian roulette with every man, woman and child on that journey". She added that it was "inevitable" he was going to crash into a vehicle.

Richard Dawson, representing Anderson, said: "By his guilty pleas…[Anderson] accepts he drove dangerously and caused the deaths of both Zackary and Karlene. No explanation can be provided by him how this terrible accident occurred.

"In all likelihood the combination of speed, intoxication and distraction of mobile phone" caused the incident, Mr Dawson said. He added that Anderson was "not concentrating" and that is "profoundly sorry" and wants to apologise.