Drink-driver turned down lift before killing woman in smash

A DRIVER who caused the death of a woman as he drove on the wrong side of the road while almost four times the drink drive limit has been jailed for five years.

Stephen Lees Lees was nearly four times the drink drive limit

Wendy Nelson, 60, was killed instantly in a head-on collision with a BMW being driven by Stephen Lees after he had spent six hours drinking.

A court heard Lees turned down the offer of a lift home before the collision by a man who became concerned when he saw him about to get into his car.

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Lees rejected the man’s pleas for him not to drive himself outside the New Inn, Cliffe, near Selby.

The court heard he lived just a short walk away from the pub.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Lees’s brother lived opposite the pub and he had snubbed the suggestion of staying at his home for the night.

Lees, a HGV driver, instead staggered to his own car and began to drive home, a journey of just 1.6 miles.

Stephen Thornton, prosecuting, said Lees drove on the wrong side of the road at a bend on the A63 and struck Miss Nelson’s Kia Picanto. Mrs Nelson, who worked for a legal firm, of Reighton Avenue, Clifton, was making her way home from a weekend with relatives when the collision happened around 8.45pm on Sunday, May 11 this year.

Jailing Lees, judge Neil Clark, said: “She was clearly somebody who contributed an awful lot to the lives of those who loved her and were close to her and she is enormously missed. That loss was caused by you.

“You did not live very far away and could have walked home in less than half an hour.”

Residents living close to the accident describing hearing a “huge bang” and went to try to help Miss Nelson.

But firefighters had to cut her out of the vehicle. Attempts were made to resuscitate her but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lees, of Station Cottage, Cliffe, stayed at the scene.

He later gave a breath test reading that was just short of being four times the legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath or 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

He pleaded guilty to causing Miss Nelson’s death by careless driving while drink-driving.

Andrew Stubbs, QC, said: “Whatever the sentence the court does impose, the defendant’s guilt and shame will last far longer than that.”

Inspector Michael Barron who leads North Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Investigation Team said: “This tragic case is a classic example of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after having consumed alcohol.

“Lees was nearly four times the drink drive limit when the BMW he was driving was involved in a collision with a Kia Picanto which resulted in the death of Wendy Nelson.”

Inspector Barron added: “My advice is simple. Think before you drink before you drive.”

After her death, Miss Nelson’s neighbours paid tribute to her as a kind, friendly woman.

Managing partner Robert Onyett of Harrowells Solicitors in Haxby, where she worked, described her as a “loyal and conscientious member of staff.”

He said: “She had a wonderfully down-to-earth view of the world with a very caring heart which will be missed by all her friends and colleagues.”