Drink-driver jailed for causing death of Wisbech man in crash

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The widow of a Wisbech man who died in a multi-vehicle crash caused by a drink-driver has pleaded for other motorists to think of the potential dangers.

Keith Howlett, who was 60, suffered fatal injuries in a five-vehicle pile-up on the A142 at Mepal, just five days before Christmas last year.

The man responsible for the crash, 47-year-old Stephen James, was jailed for six years at Peterborough Crown Court on Thursday.

He had previously pleaded guilty to charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Following the sentencing, Mr Howlett’s wife, Joy, said: “Keith went out to work that morning happy, smiling and looking forward to Christmas with his family but never came back.

“He was larger than life and a real family man. We’re all devastated by what has happened.

“Anyone thinking of getting in a car after a night of drinking please just stop and think about the consequences of your actions.”

James, of Parkside, Haverhill, Suffolk, had been travelling to work when he overtook a lorry shortly before 6am on December 20, 2016.

He hit a central traffic island and crashed head on with a Vauxhall Vivaro travelling in the opposite direction. The driver of the van suffered life changing injuries.

His actions also caused the lorry he was overtaking to swerve into the path of a Vauxhall Corsa driven by Mr Howlett, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of another Vauxhall Corsa that was caught up in the incident suffered minor injuries.

Police said James, who was banned from driving for 10 years and ordered to take an extended re-test as part of his sentence, had been two and a half times over the drink-drive limit at the time of the crash.

PC James Thorne, a forensic collision investigator for Cambridgeshire Police, said: “James robbed a family and friends of Keith just five days before Christmas after knowingly consuming a vast quantity of alcohol the night before he was due to start work at 6am.

“Running late and compounded due to his deplorable level of intoxication he made the decision to overtake a lorry in a place which was wholly inappropriate.

“We welcome the sentence and hope it serves as a stark reminder and deterrent to those who drink and drive.

“If in doubt, don’t drink or don’t drive, the consequences can be fatal and far more devastating than you might think.”