Family will 'never be happy' with sentencing outcome of drunk Audi driver who killed baby and aunt in A1 collision

A mourning family have said they will "never be happy" with the sentencing outcome of a drunk-driver who killed a baby and aunt in a horror crash.

Darryl Jason Anderson was behind the wheel of an Audi Q5 on the A1(M) when he was involved in an early hours crash between Chester-le-Street and Durham on May 31, 2024. The horror smash resulted in the tragic deaths of eight-month-old Zackary Blades and his auntie, Karlene Warner, who were travelling in a Peugeot being driven by Zackary’s mum, Shalorna Warner.

On Tuesday, Anderson, of Clarell Walk, Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, appeared at Durham Crown Court to be sentenced for two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. The 38-year-old was jailed for 17 years and three months and given a 21 and-a-half year driving ban.

Following the sentencing, which was attended by scores of family members of the deceased, Shalorna spoke to media outside of the court. She said: "I would like to thank everyone at the scene [and] the lorry driver who stopped. We then went to hospital and had the most amazing nurse, she was called Jo, my mam describes her as an angel from above, she was amazing.

"The police and Natalie and Michael who have been amazing, the liaison officers as well. We were never going to be happy with the sentence today, because it doesn't make up for what we've lost. But it's the best that could have been.

"The one thing I really hoped for was a lifetime driving ban, which he did not get, but now I'm going to fight because he should never get in a car again and drive and no one should have to go through what we've gone through. If we can stop that next person and make them think twice, we've done some good. Karlene and Zack's lives were more than that. Please join us now in our Justice for Zack and Karlene and we will not stop, I will fight every single day on this earth for them."

During the emotional sentencing hearing, victim impact statements were read to the court from family members. Shalorna and Karlene's father, Nigel Warner, described Anderson as a “wild man driving a killing machine”, saying: “No words can describe how we felt when we received that call from Shalorna. A horrifying, horrendous incident that will stay with her forever.”

In a second victim statement, Karlene’s husband, Kieran Hutchinson, demanded Anderson to look at him from the dock. Anderson’s eyes remained fixed to the floor, with Karlene’s husband shouting “coward” at him. As Anderson was given his prison sentence, there were more outbursts from the public gallery, with one man standing up and telling the defendant he would "not leave prison alive".