An uninsured drink-driver travelling at up to 100mph killed a South Yorkshire pensioner who was on the way to visit his great-grandchildren in a Sunday morning head-on horror smash.
Latvian national Aleksandrs Ivanovs was seen smiling and handing cigarettes to friends in the immediate aftermath of the crash, before swearing at paramedics who arrived at the scene and refusing to do a breathalyser test for police officers, a court heard.
Victim John Thompson, 72 and from Conisbrough, died from his injuries in the crash on Doncaster Road in Mexborough on Sunday, February 21 that occurred at around 10.20am.
Ivanovs, 32 and of Manvers Road, Mexborough, was sentenced to six years in prison at Sheffield Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
Judge Julian Goose QC said witnesses had described Ivanovs driving the Audi ‘like a rocket’ and going at estimated speeds of between 60mph and 100mph near the centre of the road on a single carriageway.
After two near-misses with other vehicles, his car clipped into a Vauxhall Corsa - forcing the other vehicle up to the kerb. The Corsa driver was left with whiplash, cuts and bruises, while his car was written off.
While on the wrong side of the road, Ivanovs then ploughed head-on into Mr Thompson’s Toyota Corolla, resulting in the death of the pensioner and minor injuries to two other people who were travelling with Ivanovs.
Simon Waley, prosecuting, said: “Immediately afterwards, the defendant appeared to be behaving somewhat bizarrely, offering cigarettes to those who were other occupants in his car.”
He said witnesses said Ivanovs appeared to be ‘smiling’ at the other occupants of his car.
Mr Waley added: “His mood appeared to have changed when the police officers became involved, he became quite aggressive and abusive.”
Later tests on Ivanovs found that he was two-and-half times over the drink-drive limit after he initially refused to be tested.
The court was told he had drunk around three-quarters of a bottle of whisky before getting in the car.
Robert Sheldon, defending, said Mr Thompson had not been wearing a seatbelt when the collision occurred.
He said: “Mr Thompson did not deserve what happened to him, he was of course the victim of this offence. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and that is a factor.”
Mr Sheldon added Ivanovs was thoroughly ashamed of what he did which was out of character. “He knows he must pay a penalty,” he said.
But Judge Goose said Mr Thompson would not have survived even if he had been wearing a seatbelt. He said Ivanovs had been involved in ‘an appalling episode of dangerous driving’ and had told paramedics to ‘**** off’ when they arrived at the scene to treat those he had injured.
Judge Goose added: “Whether or not Mr Thompson was wearing a seatbelt, the speed of your vehicle and the extent of the damage meant his death was inevitable in my judgement.
“His life was cut short by your driving. This was a very bad episode of dangerous driving.”
He said Ivanovs had been driving at a ‘grossly excessive speed’, adding: “Nothing I can nor any lawful sentence I can pass will compensate the family and friends of Mr Thompson for the death you have caused. That loss will be felt by his family forever.”
Ivanovs, who has a previous conviction for careless driving, was also disqualified from driving for seven years and eight months.
Judge Goose said he did not have the power to order the deportation of Ivanovs as Latvia is part of the European Union.
After the case, investigating officer Neil Morrell, from the South Yorkshire Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “I am pleased Mr Ivanovs accepted responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty, but sadly this positive result will never ease the loss for the family who lost their loved one and I offer my condolences to them at what must still be a very difficult time.
“Mr Ivanovs is now behind bars for his crime and I hope that this case demonstrates our commitment to making our region’s roads safer by bringing offenders before the courts.”
Mr Thompson’s partner of ten years, Ann Owen, said that the pensioner had been “loved by everyone”.
She said: “He had so many friends, he was really into his football. Everybody who knew him loved him.”
Ms Owen’s son Troy, who had known John, a football manager, throughout his mother’s relationship, described him as “really popular”.
He said: “He was an outgoing man. He could go into a pub and not know anyone and come out with friends.”
Describing the six year sentence for Aleksandrs Ivanovsas as “shocking”, Ms Owen, 70, from Doncaster, said: “If he had never been in the country, this would never have happened.
“He doesn’t understand how much he has hurt us all. He took one life and has destroyed so many others.
“I know I’ll never get over it.”