November 26, 2020 5.05 pm This story is over 35 months old

Drug driver jailed after crash killed friend

He lost control on a bend and hit a tree

A driver high on drugs has been jailed for eight years for causing the death of his friend and passenger on the Nottinghamshire border with Lincolnshire.

Matthew Thomas, 21, was speeding on a country road when he dangerously overtook a car on a bend and lost control, hitting a tree on Stockwith Road in Walkeringham on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

Thomas had visited the Waterfront Inn at West Stockwith with a group of friends, including the victim, 28-year-old James Jennings from Owston Ferry in North Lincolnshire, who was a back seat passenger in the car.

After leaving the pub, Thomas drove his Volkswagen Golf and was travelling at over 76mph in a 60mph zone before the crash happened. Despite the efforts of emergency services and other people, James was pronounced dead at the scene.

The front seat passenger, a 23-year-old man, also sustained serious injuries including a fractured back and hand.

Drug tests found that Thomas, of Park Close in Westwoodside, was six times over the legal limit for benzoylecgonine (a breakdown product of cocaine) at the time of the crash.

Thomas’ mobile phone was seized and reviewed as part of Nottinghamshire Police’s investigation into the collision.

Messages on the device showed he had frequently been supplying class A drugs between June and September 2019. This resulted in further charges for supplying class a drugs.

He pleaded guilty on October 19 this year to causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, supplying cocaine and supplying MDMA.

Thomas appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday, November 25 when he was sentenced to eight years in jail.

A floral tribute in memory of James Jennings. | Photo: Nottinghamshire Police

James’ family paid tribute to him saying: “From the minute we received this terrible news our whole world has been turned upside down.

“No words can describe how devastated we felt upon being told James had died.

“We feel this pain every day and whilst we are relieved the sentencing has now taken place, nothing will bring James back or lessen our pain at losing him.”

Investigating Officer Louise Melbourne, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Thomas’ actions on that day showed a blatant disregard for the safety of himself, his friends and members of the public.

“His actions have left James’ family and friends absolutely devastated. Although he now has to face up to the consequences of his actions that day, no sentence can compensate for the loss of James’ life and the immense distress caused.

“I have nothing but praise for the strength, courage and dignity James’ family has shown throughout these proceedings and I’d also like to thank the members of the public for their assistance both at the scene and during our investigation.”