Unlicensed driver who left two friends to burn to death after high-speed crash is jailed

An unlicensed driver who crashed at high speed and left two friends to burn to death will spend just five years behind bars.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 4:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2016, 5:55 pm
James Maughan

James Maughan, 22, will serve just half of his 10-year sentence in prison, with the rest out on licence.

Maughan was racing another vehicle at over 70mph in August last year when he careered out of control and smashed into a house in Branton, near Doncaster, causing a huge fireball.

Liam Aldred, 26, died when a car he was travelling in crashed into a house in Poppyfields Way, Branton and caught fire.

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Maughan and a 15-year-old boy in the front seat fled – leaving Liam Aldred, 26, and Dean McIntyre, 27, trapped in the back of the car.

A third passenger was also left in the back seat of the Renault Megane and survived with severe burns that have left him scarred for life.

Maughan, of Marshland Road, Doncaster, was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon for two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving after being found guilty by a jury earlier this week.

The court heard Maughan had been racing another car at speeds of over 70mph in a 30mph zone when the crash occurred on the afternoon of August 25 last year on Poppyfields Way, Branton.

Dean McIntyre died in a car crash in Branton

Over the course of one-and-a-half miles prior to the crash, he narrowly avoided a head-on collision with another vehicle and at one stage was travelling three abreast on the road as he overtook the Volkswagen Passat he was racing while it was overtaking another vehicle itself.

Judge Julian Goose QC said that after losing control and crashing into a brick wall, leaving the car upside down and on fire, Maughan escaped the vehicle and fled the scene while Mr Aldred and Mr McIntyre were ‘burnt alive’.

Maughan got a van driver to get him away from the scene, refusing to go to hospital and telling the man he had been attacked by people who had poured petrol on him.

Maughan fled to Swansea, where he went to hospital and gave a false name to doctors treating him for his burns, which he said were the result of a barbecue accident.

The scene in Poppyfields Way, Branton following the fatal crash which occurred on August 25 last year.

The sentencing of Maughan - who had denied during the trial he had been the driver of the vehicle - was delayed for several hours due to the defendant refusing to leave prison and come to court. When he eventually appeared in the dock, he was in handcuffs and flanked by four prison guards.

Judge Goose said Maughan has shown ‘little or no remorse’.

He told the defendant: “No sentence I can lawfully pass will bring back the lives of the two deceased young men. who were at the start of their lives.”

Emotional statements were given in court by members of the victim’s family.

Liam Aldred, 26, died when a car he was travelling in crashed into a house in Poppyfields Way, Branton and caught fire.

The court heard both Mr McIntyre’s brother and mother had previously died in road traffic collisions - with his mother’s death happening ‘on the same stretch of road in the same make of car’ around 15 years ago.

His aunt Kristina Perry said: “Words cannot express how much we are going to miss Dean.”

Mr Aldred’s father Steve said: “I do not really know how to start putting into words the way I feel and how the death of my son has affected me and my family.

“I loved my son from the moment he was first put in my arms as a baby.

“To have him taken away in such tragic circumstances means only someone who has gone through what I’m going through can understand my heartache.”

He said he could forgive Maughan for the crash but not for running away.

Dean McIntyre died in a car crash in Branton

“You chose to flee the scene instead of trying to help those still inside and leaving them to perish,” he said.

He said that the families of the two victims were then put ‘through Hell’ for several days as they waited in anguish for confirmation that their sons had died.

Mr Aldred said: “The only thing that matters to me is that I have lost my son. To the defendant’s family, I hold no malice towards you.

“Your son will be returned to you and you can carry on with your lives. The sad thing is my son will never be returned back to me.”

Liam’s mother Tracey House told the court: “When Liam died, a part of me died alongside him.

“The pain of losing my son will never go away - we have be served with a life sentence.

“The defendant is still young enough to have whatever he wants in life - start a family, get married. We will never get to see Liam do any of this.”

As he was sentenced to 10 years in jail, Maughan said ‘Thank you, your Honour’ and looked at his family in the public gallery above court.

As he was taken to the cells, members of Maughan’s family shouted ‘Love you Jimmy’ and ‘You are an angel’.

Following the sentence, Temporary Inspector Steve Askham, from the Serious Collisions Unit, said South Yorkshire Police will consider whether to contact Government ministers in relation to reviewing the current law on failing to stop at the scene of an accident, which carries a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment.

He said: “I am pleased that the two families in this case, who have suffered tremendous pain and loss, finally have answers about what happened.

“No prison sentence will bring back Liam or Dean, who were greatly loved by those who knew them, but I hope it will give his family and friends some small comfort that Maughan has been held to account for what he did.

“He had absolutely no regard for other drivers, pedestrians or those inside the car with him when he drove so dangerously on the day of the crash.

“He showed further disregard when he left his friends inside the car to burn. He then put the families through a very distressing and traumatising trial, when he could have admitted what happened months ago and spared them the ordeal of having to endure a trial.

“Maughan has never shown any remorse for what he did and, despite threats of extreme violence towards our police officers, we prosecuted him without fear or favour.”

The scene in Poppyfields Way, Branton following the fatal crash which occurred on August 25 last year.