Killer driver jailed after three women die in horrific smash

Scene of the crash
Scene of the crash

A DRIVER who egged on another motorist to race and caused a horrific crash which killed three women has been jailed for 12 and a half years.

Jak Parker’s street racing had already caused a woman crossing a road to be seriously injured two and a half weeks before.

Jak Parker

Jak Parker

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, sentencing Parker at Teesside Crown Court, said his actions had shattered the lives of three families.

He was jailed for 10 years after admitting three counts of causing death by dangerous driving, and a further two and a half years for causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Parker, from Wingate, overtook a Fiat 500 in Front Street, Shotton Colliery, driving his MG ZR car at over 70mph in a 30mph zone.

The Fiat subsequently collided with a Citroen Xsara, trapping three people inside.

The Fiat driver Rebecca Learoyd and her front seat passenger and best friend Megan Robinson, both 19, were killed, along with the Citroen driver, 60-year-old Anne Peachey.

The court heard Parker’s driving egged Ms Learoyd on to drive at speed, and having got into a race with him, she lost control after he had overtaken, and her Fiat hit the Citroen head-on.

Grandmother Ms Peachey died in an air ambulance on the way to hospital after the crash in June last year.

Her daughter Joanne and granddaughter were also in the car and in statements described their horror at being trapped as her life ebbed away.

Parker admitted a separate charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving on June 8 last year.

He was driving the same car when a pedestrian suffered a leg injury as she used a crossing in Wheatley Hill.

She was struck by a van driven by Roy Morrison, 20, who lives on a caravan site near Chester-le-Street.

Morrison was jailed for three and a half years after he was convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Judge Bourne-Arton told Parker: “By your actions on that day in June, you have shattered the lives of three families.

“Three families who have lost respectively, a daughter, a mother, a wife, a grandmother.

“You may or may not be able to put the events of that day from your mind. They never will.

“The consequences of your actions will remain with them.

“You deprived them of their loved ones by driving in the most dangerous of fashions.”

Parker was guilty of a prolonged piece of dangerous driving over a significant distance on that damp evening as he drove from Wingate to Peterlee. Witnesses described seeing his car “fishtail” around corners in the wet.

He drove at over 70mph through 30mph zones at a time when there were other road users about.

Parker drove up too close behind Miss Learoyd, making her speed up.

“In short, you were racing,” the judge said.

“You essentially were egging her on to drive at greater speed.

“You overtook when it was dangerous to do so.”

A black box recovered from her wrecked car showed she had been travelling at up to 77mph although she slowed down in the seconds before the crash.

The collision happened 13 days after he was interviewed by police about racing Morrison’s van, when the pedestrian was hit near a zebra crossing.

The judge said Parker’s driving was not the sole cause of the fatal accident, but a substantial part.

He said although Miss Learoyd’s Fiat, which had previously been written off and is now subject of separate legal proceedings, had faults, these would not have been a problem if she had not been travelling so fast - “a speed caused by you racing her”, the judge said.

The judge said Parker’s driving on the night the pedestrian was hurt was also “appalling” as he and Morrison raced along.

Robin Turton, prosecuting, said police analysis showed there was no single cause of the crash, but speed, inexperience, wet conditions and the undulating road were factors.

He said a “red mist” may have descended on Miss Learoyd, and Mr Turton said: “It is likely Rebecca was drawn in to the competitive element of the event.”

In a victim impact statement her father John said he had lost his best friend, his only child, and not a day went by without him thinking of his loss.

Joseph Peachey, Anne’s widower, said in his statement: “It’s hard to be strong when the person who gave you your strength is missing”, adding that his loss was indescribable.

Jacqueline Robinson, Megan’s mother, read her statement out to the court, and said she invited her daughter’s friends to see her in intensive care to show them the dangers of speeding.

She said her daughter was “wonderfully loud and vibrant”, adding: “In our house now there is only sadness.”

Stephen Constantine, for Parker, said his client’s probation report described his remorse, and his desire to explain to the victims’ families what happened, although he realised that was unlikely to be possible.

Glenn Gatland, for Morrison, said although his client maintained he was not responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries, he was not an uncaring, arrogant young man.