Driver sank several pints, drove like a 'bat out of hell' and crashed car killing girlfriend's brother

Forrest Burgin
-Credit: (Image: Lincolnshire Police)

A drink-driver who was speeding like a "bat out of hell" when he lost control of his Mercedes 4x4 and killed his girlfriend's brother has been jailed for six years. Forrest Burgin, 28, was around twice the drink-drive limit when he lost control of his personalised Mercedes AMG on a long right-hand bend near Horncastle, Lincs.

The crash took the life of his girlfriend's brother - John Benjamin Wilson - who was known to his friends and family as Ben and came from a fifth-generation Horncastle farming family. Burgin, of Eyre Chapel Rise, Newbold, Chesterfield, admitted causing Mr Wilson's death by dangerous driving after he lost control of the white Mercedes on the A153 between Horncastle and Dalderby on 22 June, 2023.

The car's onboard computer estimated the Mercedes was still travelling at 71mph when it hit a roadside barrier despite already beginning to brake, Lincoln Crown Court heard. The driver of a motorbike which was overtaken by Burgin shortly before the crash estimated he was speeding at over 100mph and described the vehicle as "like a bat out of hell."

Steven Bailey, prosecuting, told the court: "It's plain he must have been speeding heavily indeed." Mr Bailey said the front seat passenger of the Mercedes AMG was John Benjamin Wilson - known to his friends and family as Ben - who was the brother of Burgin's girlfriend, Emma Wilson, who was sat in the rear.

The court heard Ben died very quickly from a head injury after the Mercedes continued to roll over the roadside barrier. At the scene, Burgin admitted he was the driver and "had drunk a few pints."

An expert estimated there was at least 152 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system at the time of the crash - compared to the legal limit of 80 - and was likely to be higher at 171 milligrams. Mr Bailey said Burgin and Miss Wilson had travelled from Chesterfield to Lincolnshire to spend time with their family.

They met up with Ben, aged 32, and spent seven hours on the day of the crash drinking at Harper's Bar in Horncastle before leaving at around 8.30pm with Mr Burgin behind the wheel. "Mr Burgin bought the drinks," Mr Bailey told the court, with CCTV showing him making eight trips to the bar.

"On each occasion, he bought three alcoholic drinks," Mr Bailey added, "with Mr Burgin drinking eight pints of four per cent larger." A victim impact statement from Ben's father, Gary, was read out in court.

Mr Wilson described how his son's life "had been taken far too soon," and he was due to take over his fifth-generation farm. The court heard Burgin had no previous convictions and a positive driving record.

Tom Gent, mitigating, said Burgin was consumed by what he had done and haunted by his decision to drive. Mr Gent argued the alcohol readings estimated by the expert suggested Burgin had not drunk eight pints.

The court heard Burgin will now also be absent from the birth of his child with Miss Wilson, who has stood by him. "The man who died, the man he killed was close to him, but much closer to the woman he loves, " Mr Gent added. "It will live with them forever."

Passing sentence Judge James House KC said the death of Ben had reverberated around his community, and it was impossible not to be moved by the victim impact statements from his father and two close friends. Judge House told Burgin his good character had been taken away by "his phenomenally foolish decision to drive."

"You were driving far too fast for the prevailing road conditions," Judge House told Burgin, adding it was fortunate that both he and Emma walked away. "Whether you drank eight pints, or one or two less, makes no difference," Judge House said.

"You should never have got behind the wheel of a car - quite why Ben and Emma got in after drinking with you for seven hours will never be known." Burgin was also disqualified from driving for eight years and must take an extended retest.