A man has been jailed for 14 years after killing a 21-year-old woman when he drove the wrong way on a major arterial road at high speed in a stolen van and crashed head on into an Uber cab.
Ashley Loveday, 39, was behind the wheel of a Peugeot Boxer van when the collision happened on the A13 in east London, early on November 25 last year.
Grace Payne, 21, who had been a passenger in a Toyota Prius Uber vehicle, was killed in the collision.
The driver of the Uber, Sundar Ali, 59, was seriously injured but survived.
Loveday routinely sped that evening at 85mph in 30 and 40 mph zones, up to 97mph in another 30mph zone and at between 70mph and 90mph in a 50mph zone on the A13 while travelling into oncoming traffic.
He also drove through red lights and pedestrian crossings.
A toxicology report found he had cocaine in his system.
The A13 is a major road linking central London with east London and south Essex.
In January, Loveday pleaded guilty to causing Ms Payne’s death and causing serious injury to Mr Ali by his dangerous driving.
Loveday, from Avondale Road, Canning Town, east London, also admitted aggravated vehicle taking of the van on or before November 22 last year.
He appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey on Thursday sporting a neck-tattoo and supported by a crutch.
Judge Mark Dennis KC sentenced him to 14 years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving, to two years and eight months imprisonment each for causing serious injury by dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking, to run concurrently.
Loveday will serve two-thirds of the sentence before he is released on licence.
The judge told him: “Your actions on that fateful night in November last year involved driving at the highest level of dangerousness to others in a prolonged and determined course of dangerous driving, leaving in its wake two victims.
“It has caused indescribable anguish for many, and irreparable harm.
“It was perhaps only pure chance that others were not also harmed at one stage or another in that dreadful course of driving.”
The judge also disqualified Loveday from driving for 19 years and four months from Thursday.
Ms Payne’s parents paid tribute to their daughter in a victim impact statement read out by the prosecutor.
They said: “Grace’s death has left us as a family devastated.”
“We are struggling to come to terms with the fact that our daughter will never be coming home,” they added.
Ms Payne was described as a “caring, compassionate, bright, funny, bubbly” person who loved children and planned to one day retrain from human resources to become a primary school teacher.
The parents went on to say that their daughter graduated from the University of Kent last year with a degree in history and philosophy and had started work with an architectural firm in London.
They added: “If Grace was out with a group of friends, it was always said she was the one looking after everyone else, making sure they would get home safely.
“Last week, she joined work colleagues on their regular Thursday night out. Tragically, she never made it home.”
They believed she was safe when she messaged them that evening telling them she was on her way home, the court heard.
“Nothing could have prepared us (for what happened),” they said.
The couple added that Christmas time will “forever” be painful, as they spent the last holiday season preparing their daughter’s funeral.
Police officers pursued Loveday after the van he was driving activated an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera. Loveday failed to stop or slow down but instead increased his speed when officers started to follow him.
Officers discontinued their pursuit after Loveday joined the A13, deeming it “too dangerous” to follow him travelling against oncoming traffic.
A number of the officers involved were described as experienced and highly trained and the court heard that they had “never seen” driving as dangerous.
Rakesh Bhasin, defending, said there was “no issue taken on the facts”.
The prosecutor told the court that Mr Ali had “no chance at all” to avoid the defendant’s vehicle.
The Uber driver was taken to the Royal London Hospital with a wounded spleen and fractures to his right collar bone, left upper arm bone and bone at the base of his right thumb.
The court heard Mr Ali’s brain function is impaired and that he experiences painful headaches and forgetfulness.
In a victim impact statement, summarised by the prosecutor, Mr Ali said he has lost his income and believes he will never get his physical strength back.
He added that he is “traumatised” by the incident, especially in relation to what happened to Ms Payne.
Loveday has been before the courts since he was 16, having been convicted of 81 offences on 54 occasions between 2000 and 2022, the court heard.
His previous convictions include aggravated vehicle taking, wounding, affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
At the time of the offence, he did not have a driving licence, was uninsured to drive the van and was wanted for breaching court orders.
Loveday has never passed a driving test, the court heard.
Mr Bhasin said his client is “extremely distressed” over what did and is remorseful.
The court was told the maximum sentence for an offence of causing death by dangerous driving is now life imprisonment, increased from 14 years, for any offence committed after June 2022.
Ellis Williams, district crown prosecutor with the CPS, said: “This sentence reflects the severity of Loveday’s offending. He chose to indulge in a dangerous high speed vehicle chase, which tragically ended in the death of Grace Payne and left Sundar Ali with serious injuries.
“Nothing can bring Grace back but I hope this sentence goes some way to comfort her family at this difficult time.”