Drink-driver who knocked down and killed three boys wins cut in sentence

A drink-driver who killed three boys as they walked to a 16th birthday party has won a reduction in his jail sentence.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 11:46 am
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 12:53 pm
Drink-driver who knocked down and killed three boys wins cut in sentence

Jaynesh Chudasama had his 13-year prison term cut to 10-and-a-half years by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London on Friday.

Police attended the court after families of the victims and their supporters in the public gallery began chanting loudly as Sir Brian Leveson attempted to announce the decision.

Chudasama, now 29, was sentenced at the Old Bailey in March for three offences of causing death by dangerous driving.

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The car hire worker was more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit for alcohol and doing 71mph on a 60mph road in Hayes, west London, when he ploughed into the teenagers, sending them flying through the air.

Chudasama, of Hayes, who also had traces of cannabis in his system, pleaded guilty to causing the death by dangerous driving of semi-professional footballer Harry Rice, 17, apprentice electrician George Wilkinson, 16, and labourer Josh McGuinness, 16.

Sir Brian read out a summary of the decision to reduce the sentence in the absence of the families after he and his fellow judges had to move to another courtroom to deliver their ruling.

The three teenagers were all friends with "a bright future ahead of them", he said.

Sir Brian added: "The death of each of the victims in this case is a disaster and tragedy of almost unimaginable proportions for them, their families and their friends.

"We have read many statements about the catastrophic impact each has had on so many lives.

"No sentence of the court can assuage that loss.

"Parliament, however, has prescribed that the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years' imprisonment and well-established sentencing law and practice requires that the harm caused by the single offence - as opposed to any additional penalty for different offences albeit committed at the same time - does not permit the calculation of sentence to be based on consecutive, rather than concurrent, terms."

He added: "Prior to consideration of his guilty pleas, this was a case for the maximum sentence of 14 years. The appropriate discount for the pleas, however, was not one third but one quarter."

In assessing the sentence prior to discount as 20-and-a-half years and discounting to 13, the judge "fell into error".

After the Old Bailey trial, families and friends of the boys labelled the driver a "coward" for running away and leaving the teenagers to die in the road.

Josh's mother, Tracy Blackwell, told Chudasama: "You are going to rot in hell, mate."

Explaining why the judges had moved to another courtroom, Sir Brian said: "The court had wished to hand this judgment down in the presence of anyone interested to hear it. That, of course, included the families of the victims.

"As we entered court, the families and their supporters started to chant and barrack the court, making it quite impossible to hand the judgment down."

Not handing a judgment down "undermines the principle of open justice and the rule of law", said Sir Brian.

He added: "We have moved to another court in order to hand the judgment down with regret - not because of any disrespect to me or to the other members of the court - but in order that justice can be delivered publicly and in open court."

Copies of the ruling, he said, would be available for the families and anyone else interested in the decision of the court.