Full Report: Teenager imprisoned for 'despicable' Middlewich car crash deaths

Crewe Guardian: Barbara Lea Barbara Lea

A WIMBOLDSLEY teenager had been racing cars in Middlewich minutes before he killed two elderly women in a head on collision – then asked his badly injured friend to take the blame.

Michael David Gilligan, 19, of Nantwich Road, was imprisoned for six years at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday, February 19.

Barbara Lea, 79 and Christine Coates, 75, both from Sandbach, were killed when a black Vauxhall Astra driven at 54 mph by Gilligan, on the wrong side of the A533 Booths Lane, ploughed into their red Honda Jazz at 10.45pm on June 18 2013.

A passerby who stopped to help was so distressed by the scene that he himself had to be treated after going into shock.

Veteran Judge, His Honour Elgan Edwards, said: ‘This is one of the worst cases that I’ve come across’.

Prosecuting, Peter Hussey, said the car Gilligan drove belonged to friend, Chelsea Latham, whom he had convinced to let drive while she sat in the passenger seat.

After the crash, which occurred on a series of S bends, Gilligan attempted to let Ms Latham ‘carry the can’ said Judge Edwards.

Seatbelt marks on the pair were inconsistent with the story. While Ms Latham consented to an examination, Gilligan declined, becoming uncooperative enough with doctors for a staff nurse to feel the need to report the incident.

“By then, suspicion had already begun to fall on the defendant,” said Mr Hussey, who recounted eyewitness accounts of Gilligan having driven the vehicle earlier in the evening at Middlewich MacDonald’s.

“Although Ms Latham knew he was not on her insurance, he had on previous occasions driven.” said Mr Hussey.

“He began driving fast and competitively, with a series of friends in other cars.

“At one point he overtook one of the cars on a blind corner, maybe 30 minutes before the fatal collision.”

When they pulled over, Ms Latham asked for her keys back, ‘but when the cars set off again, he remained in the driver’s seat,” said Mr Hussey.

“He dropped down a gear to gain revs because he had lost ground on the other car, a Renault Clio.

“She screamed at him to slow down. She knew of the approaching S bends.

“She said: ‘you’re going to kill us all’.

Gilligan pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at his first appearance before magistrates.

Defending, Daniel Gaskell, said: “This is a young man, only 18 at the time, who has no previous convictions, who since leaving school two years ago has been in employment.

“He has assisted in the community by helping youngsters take up football.

“He’s grown up in quite difficult circumstances. He’s had a number of issues to cope with and he has coped with them well. I would ask the court to have mercy on this defendant.”

Gilligan was sentenced to six years in prison and banned from driving for seven years.

Sentencing, Judge Elgan Edwards told Gilligan: “This is a tragedy for you and your family, but it’s a far greater tragedy for the families of the two ladies who died as a result of your driving. They had lead lives of great distinction. They were out driving that night, but unfortunately for them; so were you.

“You pressured your friend to drive for whatever reason. You ignored her warnings; her pleas that you were going to kill them all because of your driving.

“You were driving on the wrong side of the road on a bendy road and you drove straight into a car being driven by the deceased.

“They didn’t stand a chance and died shortly afterwards. You were injured, but what did you do then?

“You tried to get Ms Latham to carry the can. That was despicable behaviour on your part.”

Comments (6)

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6:09pm Thu 20 Feb 14

Middlewichresident says...

How appalling. Very sad.

This is why I have always said its an insult to those that have died on this road to blame the road for being dangerous. It's the utterly selfish idiots that think it's ok to drive in this way that are to blame.

So very sorry to the families of the deceased. I hope the person that witnessed this tragedy has had aftercare.
How appalling. Very sad. This is why I have always said its an insult to those that have died on this road to blame the road for being dangerous. It's the utterly selfish idiots that think it's ok to drive in this way that are to blame. So very sorry to the families of the deceased. I hope the person that witnessed this tragedy has had aftercare. Middlewichresident
  • Score: 10

9:38pm Thu 20 Feb 14

molliemoo says...

It is very sad that the two ladies died in this tragic accident but that is exactly what it was (an accident). The young lad who has been jailed for this incident did not go out to kill two people that night and surely as the owner of the car the young girl was responsible for the vehicle and should not have let him drive it in the first place. Is there not the crime of aiding and abetting any longer. He will serve his sentence but it does not end when he is released as he has got to live with what happened but I feel that he is not the only person responsible for this accident.
It is very sad that the two ladies died in this tragic accident but that is exactly what it was (an accident). The young lad who has been jailed for this incident did not go out to kill two people that night and surely as the owner of the car the young girl was responsible for the vehicle and should not have let him drive it in the first place. Is there not the crime of aiding and abetting any longer. He will serve his sentence but it does not end when he is released as he has got to live with what happened but I feel that he is not the only person responsible for this accident. molliemoo
  • Score: -4

8:05am Fri 21 Feb 14

Middlewichresident says...

I would add so have the families of the victims got to live with this tragedy. The prison sentence was fair but he should have been banned off our roads for a lot longer. His behaviour was pure selfish and I hope he has plenty of opportunity to reflect when he is sat in his cell.
I would add so have the families of the victims got to live with this tragedy. The prison sentence was fair but he should have been banned off our roads for a lot longer. His behaviour was pure selfish and I hope he has plenty of opportunity to reflect when he is sat in his cell. Middlewichresident
  • Score: 12

2:56am Sat 22 Feb 14

Guardian@reader says...

I believe this young man did not intentionally go out to kill, injure and completely ruin so many peoples lives that night along with his own. Unfortunately though this happened.
My heart truly goes out to the families of the deceased this is a complete life changing situation for so many people.
I cannot understand why the young lady involved is not getting charged alongside the young man as I believe she was as involved as he was. She should NEVER have given him the keys in the first place. when you own a vehicle you are entirely responsible for it.
I also read the young man was racing with two other vehicles if this is true are the drivers of those cars getting charged for wreckless/dangerous driving?
If this was my mum that had passed away so tragically I would be mortified that only one person out of so many involved was getting charged.
May this be a lesson to all the young people that race around in their cars or on their bikes although I am sure that incidents like this will occur over and over again as many people think "that won't happen to me"
Remember it could be your loved getting killed/injured how would you feel then???
I believe this young man did not intentionally go out to kill, injure and completely ruin so many peoples lives that night along with his own. Unfortunately though this happened. My heart truly goes out to the families of the deceased this is a complete life changing situation for so many people. I cannot understand why the young lady involved is not getting charged alongside the young man as I believe she was as involved as he was. She should NEVER have given him the keys in the first place. when you own a vehicle you are entirely responsible for it. I also read the young man was racing with two other vehicles if this is true are the drivers of those cars getting charged for wreckless/dangerous driving? If this was my mum that had passed away so tragically I would be mortified that only one person out of so many involved was getting charged. May this be a lesson to all the young people that race around in their cars or on their bikes although I am sure that incidents like this will occur over and over again as many people think "that won't happen to me" Remember it could be your loved getting killed/injured how would you feel then??? Guardian@reader
  • Score: 9

12:17pm Thu 27 Feb 14

joannea4 says...

I totally agree that the young man did not set out to do this, there are some hateful and bullying comments on the social networks from young people who do not know what life is going to bring them and I assume that many of them will regret there comments when they are in difficult circumstances themselves , you know who you are, sometimes prison is not always the answer, it won't bring the ladies back that passed away, I just hope it doesn't make a law abiding young man into a hardened criminal, or addicted to drugs. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.
I totally agree that the young man did not set out to do this, there are some hateful and bullying comments on the social networks from young people who do not know what life is going to bring them and I assume that many of them will regret there comments when they are in difficult circumstances themselves , you know who you are, sometimes prison is not always the answer, it won't bring the ladies back that passed away, I just hope it doesn't make a law abiding young man into a hardened criminal, or addicted to drugs. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT. joannea4
  • Score: -7

2:52pm Mon 3 Mar 14

cw10member says...

molliemoo wrote:
It is very sad that the two ladies died in this tragic accident but that is exactly what it was (an accident). The young lad who has been jailed for this incident did not go out to kill two people that night and surely as the owner of the car the young girl was responsible for the vehicle and should not have let him drive it in the first place. Is there not the crime of aiding and abetting any longer. He will serve his sentence but it does not end when he is released as he has got to live with what happened but I feel that he is not the only person responsible for this accident.
too right, she only had to call the police if he would not give her the keys back as everyone these days seems to have mobile phones , and it would of made him think twice about driving on ... all in the car should of been charged for aiding and abetting ....
[quote][p][bold]molliemoo[/bold] wrote: It is very sad that the two ladies died in this tragic accident but that is exactly what it was (an accident). The young lad who has been jailed for this incident did not go out to kill two people that night and surely as the owner of the car the young girl was responsible for the vehicle and should not have let him drive it in the first place. Is there not the crime of aiding and abetting any longer. He will serve his sentence but it does not end when he is released as he has got to live with what happened but I feel that he is not the only person responsible for this accident.[/p][/quote]too right, she only had to call the police if he would not give her the keys back as everyone these days seems to have mobile phones , and it would of made him think twice about driving on ... all in the car should of been charged for aiding and abetting .... cw10member
  • Score: -1

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