Drink driver jailed for crash which killed Yardley couple

By Chris Willmott 12/03 Updated: 13/03 09:14

A DRUNKEN driver who killed an elderly couple when he lost control of a high-powered BMW coupe and crashed broadside into their oncoming car has been jailed for six years.

Lee McGuigan (37) of Spinney Hill, Warwick, who had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing the death of 89-year-old Ellen Breakwell by careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit, was also disqualified for six years.

His plea of not guilty to an identical charge of causing the death of her 95-year-old husband George, who died a week after the crash on 5 September 2010, was accepted.

The couple, known as Marge and Len, were on their way from their home in Yardley, Birmingham, for Sunday lunch with their son John and his family at his home in Long Itchington.

Len was driving their almost-new Ford Focus when, as they headed along Bericote Road, near Leamington, they were confronted by an out-of-control BMW on their side of the road.

There was ‘a considerable impact,’ setting off the air bags in both cars, as a wheel from the BMW came off and flew into the Focus, trapping the elderly couple by their legs as it was pushed backwards into the hedge.

The BMW was deflected back to its own side and went up onto the verge before ending up back in the road with McGuigan, who was also badly injured, trapped inside.

Staff from the nearby Helen Ley Care Centre called the emergency services, and the couple’s son was then contacted and got to the scene before they had been cut free – and was given a ‘thumbs-up’ by his father.

The devoted couple were both rushed to University Hospital in Coventry where sadly Marge Breakwell died as a result of multiple severe injuries two days later.

Len also had severe injuries, including many fractures to his ribs and spine, but was still well enough to give the police a statement before he died, a week after the collision.

Witnesses at the crash scene could smell alcohol on McGuigan’s breath, and a breath test three hours later showed he was still double the legal limit.

The court heard McGuigan had previous convictions for failing to provide a specimen of breath, excess alcohol and reckless driving.

And at the time of the crash he was not insured to drive his friend’s BMW 325i coupe.

An accident investigator had concluded that the BMW had been struck the nearside kerb moments before the crash, which had caused McGuigan to lose control of it.

Recorder Christopher Tickle said he had read impact statements from John Breakwell which ‘highlight the devastation any family must feel at losing any parent, let alone two, in such tragic and appalling circumstances.’

David Murray, defending, said references for McGuigan showed the ‘profound effect’ the tragedy had had on him and his family, and in his pre-sentence report interview McGuigan said he was devastated he had killed two people.

McGuigan was also given a concurrent 12-month jail sentence for offences of affray and possessing a bladed article.

Mr Bannister had said that while on bail McGuigan and his wife had split up, and in November last year he turned up at her home in the middle of the night and let himself in with a key which had been left in the garage for the children.

He was armed with two large kitchen knives and went into his wife Rebecca’s bedroom where he threw a sympathy card on the bed, terrifying her.

Rebecca got up and managed to take the knives from him, but he took her phone to stop her calling the police and, before leaving, told her: “If we’re over, you’re dead.”

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