Teen driver smoked cannabis before killing newly-wed in crash

A court’s heard how a teenager killed a newly married Oldbury man, while driving his mother's car, after smoking cannabis.

Telecoms engineer Matthew Harding suffered head injuries and Danielle - his wife of just 10 days - had to make the heart breaking decision to turn off his life support machine after being told by doctor's there was no hope.

Mr Harding, 27, was working with colleague Jermaine Buchanan when the teenager ploughed into them after losing control of the Citroen Picasso he had been driving at 47mph in a 30mph limit in Coseley. The actions of the 17-year-old, who ignored warnings from his mother not to take her car, had earlier shocked one witness who told police it appeared he had "not got a clue how to drive."

As he jailed the driver for four-and-a-half-years, Judge James Burbidge QC said it was clear the teenager knew nothing about cars and had made the deliberate decision to ignore the rules with catastrophic consequences. The judge said:

"This was a flagrant disregard of all the rules of the road, you took the car without permission and the inevitable happened."

The teenager, who was 16 at the time of the incident, was disqualified from driving for seven-and-a-half years. Wolverhampton Crown Court heard Mr Harding's family had to make the "harrowing" decision to turn off his life support machine the day after the tragic accident.

The youth admitted causing the death of Mr Harding and causing serious injury to Mr Buchanan by driving dangerously.

Howard Searle, prosecuting, said the two men had been working together when the Citroen clipped the kerb, mounted the pavement and hit them. Investigators ruled the accident was due to the teenager's grossly excessive speed and his inexperience. The youth later maintained it had started raining and he had been looking for the windscreen wipers in the seconds before the accident.

Mr Searle said Mr Buchanan suffered two gashes to his head, he lost two teeth, fractured a wrist and damaged an ankle but he had since made a full recovery.

In a victim impact statement Mr Buchanan said had struggled to come to terms with the death of his friend adding that they had changed places as they worked just moments before being hit by the Citroen. Danielle Harding told police she felt she had found her "match forever" when she met her future husband who she described as "one in a million." 


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