A drink-driver who killed a former Caistor Grammar pupil and his girlfriend after driving a company car at the end of a Christmas night out has been jailed for seven years.
Matthew Jacobs, 26, of Lindholme Road, Lincoln, had spent six hours drinking with work colleagues before he got behind the wheel of a pool car and crashed into the back of budding musicians’ Alexander Ross and Sian Chambers’ Ford Mondeo, sending it 43 metres along the road.
The court heard how Mr Ross and Ms Chambers, both 19, had been asleep in the back of the car, which was parked in a lay-by on the A46 in Lincoln.
Before fleeing the scene on foot, Jacobs was found by a passing motorist with his head in his hands and immediately said: “I’m going to prison”.
Lincoln Crown Court heard on Monday (March 11) how Jacobs admitted two charges of causing death by dangerous driving as a result of a collision. He also admitted driving with excess alcohol, and failing to stop after a road accident.
He was banned from driving for four years with the disqualification to commence on his release from custody, and he will have to pass an extended re-test before being allowed his licence back.
Mr Ross and Ms Chambers were pronounced dead at the scene after the crash in the early hours of Saturday, December 22 last year.
In a victim impact statement Charles Ross, Alexander’s father, said the lives of himself and Alexander’s mother Jacqueline had been completely devastated by his death.
He said: “Alex was our only child. He was an unexpected surprise. He was a source of immense joy to us. There are no happy memories. There are memories of happy times but they are filled with grief.”
Sentencing, Judge Andrew Easteal told Jacobs: “The decision you took that night to drive when completely incapable of doing so, is one for which you are wholly responsible.
“Just a few days before Christmas you went with a group of friends from work for a night out drinking.
“You drank and drank and drank. Beer, shots and whatever else you were drinking. You went out a little before 6pm and only stopped around midnight. It was clear to those around you that you were drunk.
“You had drunk so much that you were simply incapable of properly and safely driving a car.”
Lincoln Crown Court was told Jacobs, who worked for Lincoln-based logistics company Vision Drive, was so unsteady that he fell off a bar stool.
Colleagues thought he had arranged a lift home or would get a taxi, but instead he decided to drive the work’s pool car.
Prosecuting, Phil Howes said: “This occurred in a lay-by on the A46 Lincoln bypass.
“This defendant was affected by excessive alcohol and drove into the rear of a car parked in the lay-by. It killed two 19 year olds who were lying down in the rear of the car asleep.
“His car drove into the lay-by and into the estate car. There appears to have been no reason for that manoeuvre. He hit the rear of the Ford Mondeo estate car with such force that the length of the Ford was reduced by two metres. The force of the collision caused the Ford to be pushed 43 metres along the lay-by.”
Jacobs remained slumped at the wheel of his car only stirring when a passing motorist stopped to help.
Moments later he fled from the scene on foot. Police used a drone and a helicopter to search for him, and he was picked up four hours later close to his home.
He subsequently failed a breath test and even six hours after the collision was almost twice over the limit producing a reading of 63 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of breath compared to the legal limit of 35 mgs. A back calculation showed he was more than three times over the limit at the time of the collision.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, in mitigation, said: “It was a disastrous and tragic decision for him to have done what he did, but was completely out of character.
“It can only be that the befuddling effects of the alcohol wrongly led him to believe that he was going to drive competently. This was a complete and utter aberration on his part and totally out of character.”
Mr Ross, who played the double bass, was a former pupil at Caistor Grammar School and subsequently at the Purcell School of Music in London. He played in both the National Youth Orchestra and the European Youth Orchestra.
At the time of his death he was in his second year at the Royal Academy of Music and was auditioning for major London orchestras.
Head of Strings at the Royal Academy of Music, Professor Jo Cole, described Alex as someone she would remember fondly.
She said Alex was ‘a dedicated student and had a significant talent, with a marvellous dry sense of humour’.
She added: “I will miss him very much.”
Sian and Alex had played together in the Lincolnshire Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Miss Chambers was working as a jewellery engraver and, as a talented double bass player, was continuing to make music with local ensembles.
David Chambers, the father of Sian, said “She had so much to live for. Her future has been stolen from her as has Alex’s.
“We now have to come to terms with the fact that our daughter, sister and granddaughter is never coming home again.”