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Jail for drink driver who killed friend

PUBLISHED: 16:35 07 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:09 03 March 2010

A MAN drank almost 20 pints of lager, smoked three cannabis cigarettes, got behind the wheel of a car and crashed the vehicle, killing his best friend.

A MAN drank almost 20 pints of lager, smoked three cannabis cigarettes, got behind the wheel of a car and crashed the vehicle, killing his best friend.

Carl Griffin, 23, was starting a five-year jail sentence today after admitting causing the death by careless driving while unfit through drink and drugs.

A court heard Griffin, who had rarely driven before, had drunk 18 pints and two bottles of lager between 1pm and 9pm on May 26.

He had also smoked three cannabis cigarettes and got behind the wheel of his best friend Westley Moore's Fiat Tipo car.

Mr Moore was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car as they left the Bungay Three Tuns pub.

Travelling along the straight A144 road to Halesworth, Griffin overtook two other cars at speed before losing control of the Fiat.

It ricocheted off several tree trunks before coming to rest embedded in a hedge on the other side of the carriageway.

Mr Moore, a 24-year-old chef, died instantly of multiple injuries. He had planned to marry his partner, the mother of his child Ryan, and move to Birmingham to start a new life.

Griffin, of Lambeth Close, Halesworth, escaped from the accident injured, but alive.

The court was told Griffin, who has a previous offence of drink-driving, did not hold a driver's licence and had only ever driven a tipper truck for a short time on a building site.

Griffin pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving while unfit through drink and drugs.

Sentencing him at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Judge Nicholas Beddard said: "No sentence I can pass can reflect that of a life, but there are guidelines I can follow and only a substantial length of prison sentence can be justified."

Griffin was jailed for five years, banned from driving for five years and his licence was endorsed.

Steven Dyble, prosecuting, said: "It is a wonder anybody walked away from that car alive. The car was extensively damaged."

Matthew McNiff, mitigating, said: "Carl Griffin, like the family of the deceased, will have this with him tomorrow and every day thereafter. He doesn't seek sympathy and he recognises he does not deserve sympathy."

Mr Moore's family declined to comment on the sentence following the hearing.

Pc Patrick Marsden, of Halesworth traffic police, said: "The facts speak for themselves. Drinking and driving costs lives.

"Our Christmas drink-driving campaign will start very soon. Our advice is that if you are going to have a drink, take public transport, get a nominated person to drive or face the consequences."

Speaking after the case, Ron Jessup, from the Campaign Against Drinking and Driving, who lost his 21-year-old daughter Penny to a drink-driver, said: "It would have been Penny's 29th birthday this week – this brings it home.

"To think that someone could get behind the wheel of a car knowing they have drunk 20 pints is outrageous.

"Five years is not enough. He could be out in two-and-a-half and driving again in five. The judge was right in that no sentence he could give could compare to the crime this man has committed.

"We would like to see longer sentences to act as a deterrent. Unfortunately, we can't lock them up and throw away the key. These people need to be named and shamed to stop others doing the same."

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