Darryl Anderson: Drink-driver jailed for causing deaths of baby and aunt in 141mph crash on the A1

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A driver who clocked at nearly three times the legal alcohol limit and took a photo of his speedometer reading 141mph moments before a fatal crash that killed a baby and his aunt, has been sentenced to over 17 years in prison.

Sharlona Warner, the mother of eight-month-old Zackary Blades, emotionally recounted searching for her son who had been ejected from his car seat and thrown onto the opposite carriageway of the A1 motorway in the early hours of May 31 in a tragic incident that occurred between Chester-le-Street and Durham.

Her sister Karlene was thrown from the backseat into the front airbags and both she and her nephew were killed instantly, Durham Crown Court heard.

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Darryl Anderson, 38, had been driving his Audi Q5 erratically from Newcastle Airport having drunk excessively on the plane back from a shortened holiday, after falling out with his wife. By coincidence, Sharlona Warner had been to pick up her 30-year-old sister, a flight attendant, from the same airport.

Zackary Blades and Karlene Warner, who were killed in a crash on the A1 in County Durham. Darryl Anderson, 38, has admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. Pictures released by Durham Police   Zackary Blades and Karlene Warner, who were killed in a crash on the A1 in County Durham. Darryl Anderson, 38, has admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. Pictures released by Durham Police
Zackary Blades and Karlene Warner, who were killed in a crash on the A1 in County Durham. Darryl Anderson, 38, has admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. Pictures released by Durham Police | Pictures released by Durham Police

Anderson, of Clarell Walk, Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at a hearing last week. Judge Joanne Kidd jailed him for 17 years and three months and banned him from driving for a further 21-and-a-half years when he is released.

Around 50 friends and family members of the two victims were in court for the sentencing. Judge Kidd told Anderson he had been playing “Russian roulette” with the lives of other drivers that night and a fatal crash was inevitable.

Anderson was breathalysed at the scene and police recorded a 95mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath when the legal limit is 35mg. Police found an empty vodka bottle in the wreckage of his car. He had been using WhatsApp while he drove and took a photograph on his phone in which Ms Warner’s Peugeot could be seen, showing the speedometer at 141mph, moments before the crash.

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Analysis of the Audi’s computer showed he had the accelerator fully depressed, did not brake before impact, and that a collision warning light was illuminated on the dashboard.