Stuart Abbs, 39, admitted he had drunk heavily and “sniffed” cocaine before getting behind the wheel of his Audi A4 in the early hours of July 2 last year. He lost control of the car in Pixton Way, Croydon, striking a group of teenage friends who were walking home from a birthday party.
Nicole Davis, 16, suffered devastating head injuries and died instantly, the Old Bailey heard. Six others were hurt, including a boy aged 16 who almost lost his leg because of his injuries.
Abbs pleaded guilty yesterday to causing death by dangerous driving, three charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and failing to report an accident. Judge Zoe Smith sentenced him to 10 years in prison, telling him: “You consumed an excessive amount of alcohol and should not have been driving — the result of the collision was catastrophic.”
Philip Stott, for the prosecution, said Abbs was caught on camera in at least three different pubs on July 1, drinking at least nine pints of lager before getting into his car at 1.24am. Just a minute later and only a few hundred metres from the pub, he was driving at speed and braked hard on a left-hand bend, skidding off the road as a group of 16 teenagers ran for safety.
“The car impacted seven of the 16 teenagers,” said Mr Stott. “One, Nicole Davis, received fatal head injuries and died instantly. The other six suffered injuries, some of them life-changing.”
Abbs was slurring his words when he got out of the car, and was heard saying “I messed up”, “I better get out of here, I’ve been drinking” and “Oh my God, I did this”. He ran from the scene before an ambulance and police arrived. Mr Stott said a crash investigator found Abbs had been driving at at least 55mph in the 30mph zone, while witnesses said he may have been travelling at speeds of up to 70mph. If he had been driving within the speed limit, he would have stopped around 21 metres short of the group of teenagers.
Abbs, from Croydon, handed himself in to police 10 hours after the crash, admitting he had been drinking that night because he was an alcoholic and needed booze to avoid “the shakes”.
He had been convicted of drink driving in 2009 and banned from the road for 16 months.
Through his barrister, he offered an “unreserved apology” for the crash.