A drug driver who killed a pensioner was driving “too fast, too inexperienced in a too powerful car”.
Bristol Crown Court heard mechanic Russell Vines was uninsured when testing a two-litre Honda Prelude which he hadn’t driven before on the B3134 road near his then home in Burrington Combe.
As he rounded a left hand bend at speed he lost control of the car and span without braking into the path of a Hyundai driven by Winstone Cotterell, 74, with his wife Janet, 75.
The court heard Mrs Cotterell suffered serious multiple injuries but Mr Cotterell, who was trapped in his vehicle, died later at Southmead Hospital.
Vines, 19 at the time but now aged 20, of Banwell, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs and causing death while uninsured in February last year.
Judge William Hart jailed him for three-and-a-half years.
He told a tearful Vines: “February 11, 2018, was a great tragedy occurred in the life of the Cotterell family, and a great tragedy for you.”
Vines was banned from driving for four years and nine months and told to take an extended driving test.
Robin Shellard, prosecuting, told the court road conditions were good when Vines was seen to lose control of the Honda and slam head-on into the Cotterells.
Mr Shellard said Vines’ loss of control was down to a combination of his first time in the Honda and his driving too fast for his ability.
Mr Shellard told the court: “He was driving too fast, too inexperienced in a too powerful car.”
When Vines had a blood test six hours later he was found to have 1.1 part cannabis per litre of blood.
The court heard though it was not possible to back calculate his cannabis level, he would have been significantly impaired to drive safely.
Mrs Cotterell suffered a catalogue of serious injuries which included fractures to her ribs, sternum and leg.
She made an impact statement in which she said she had lost the ability to go out, took pain relief every day and struggled to sleep every night due to replaying the crash in her mind.
She wrote: “It changed my life forever.
“I have physical as well as mental scars to remind me.”
The couple’s daughter Julie, 51, told the court her dad “Wince”, a former lorry driver, was “loving and annoying in equal measure.”
She talked of her parents’ 52-year marriage and their regular trips to the Isle of Wight and Devon.
She said: “He enjoyed driving more than anything.
“He was a careful driver who washed his immaculate car every day, as well as neighbours’ cars.”
Charles Row, defending Vines, said: “He is genuinely sorry.
“He is full of remorse for what he has caused to this family.
“He accepts he was entirely at fault.
“A poor over-reaction caused the crash and the death of Mr Cotterell.
“There is no doubt remorse is genuine.”
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Mr Row said his client was more interested in fixing cars than driving them and on the day in question was taking the Honda “around the block” after working on its radiator.
Vines accepted smoking cannabis the night before, but said he felt perfectly well when he drove.
Mr Row said: “He accepts he must have been going too fast. He lost control.
“An estimate of speed is very difficult, it was out of control and spinning.
“It was a combination of speed and of driver inexperience in a car he had never driven before on the road, and incorrect steering.”
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