Dad can never walk daughter down aisle because of drunk driver

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A drunk driver's fatal mistakes mean one of his victims will not be able to walk his daughter down the aisle when she gets married.

That is the devastating reality of Ryan Howard's "selfish choices", which were laid bare in a court hearing this morning.

The 27-year-old was also told his recklessness had taken a "shining star" from the world as family members of both his victims bravely told of their loss.

Howard was driving his BMW at twice the speed limit, while drunk, when he travelled through a red light and ploughed into David Sherwin's taxi in Croxteth on February 25, 2019.

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The crash killed passenger Michelle Jennings, who was on her way to begin a shift at the Bold Street branch of Greggs in Liverpool city centre.

Michelle Jennings was killed in a crash on the East Lancs Road

The 35-year-old, from Fazakerley, had two young children, Harry and Sophia.

In a moving statement which he read to Liverpool Crown Court, Mrs Jenning's husband Ged said she was kind, bubbly and funny.

He described breaking the news of her death to their children.

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He said: "My life has changed immeasurably and the lives of my kids will never be the same.

"I lost my best friend and the world has lost a shining star."

Mr Sherwin, 51, died from his injuries a fortnight later.

Addressing the court, his daughter Kirsty said Howard had made "selfish choices" which would affect her, her mother Heather, who has multiple sclerosis, and many others for the rest of their lives.

She said: "It is because of his recklessness that my dad will never be there to walk me down the aisle."

Taxi driver Dave Sherwin, 51, who died in a car accident in Croxteth, pictured with his wife Heather

The court today heard Howard had driven to Liverpool with friend Lewis Heyes the previous evening and been drinking in pubs and clubs until about 4.30am.

Keith Sutton, prosecuting, said Howard "insisted" he would drive the pair home when they returned to the car.

Mr Heyes, who tried to persuade Howard not to drive, described the defendant driving at speeds of up to 75mph as the passed Goodison Park on their way out of the city.

The court heard there were stationary vehicles in two lanes as Howard approached traffic lights on the junction of East Lancashire Road and Bridgehouse Lane at around 5am.

Ryan Howard, 27 and of St Helens, was jailed for causing the death of two people by dangerous driving. Image: Merseyside Police

Instead of slowing, he moved into the offside lane and drove through the lights, which had been red for 16 seconds.

His BMW reached 83mph before crashing into Mr Sherwin's Ford Mondeo as it pulled out of Bridgehouse Lane, the court heard.

The court heard Mr Sherwin, who had been a taxi driver for 20 years, was unlikely to have been able to see Howard's car until the last moment.

Dave Sherwin, 51, who died in a car crash in Croxteth

Mr Sutton said Howard originally claimed he had gone through an amber light and Mr Sherwin had crashed into him.

He later said he had no recollection of the crash or whether he was driving, but his DNA was found on the driver's airbag and he pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving in February.

He was jailed for nine years today.

In the aftermath of the crash, tributes poured in for "bubbly and beautiful" Ms Jennings and Ged posted on Facebook: "She was the most lovely person ever. Her kids were her world. Family was her everything.

"I am beyond distraught. I didn't deserve her."

Online, a friend wrote: "What a great girl she was and having worked with her am heartbroken for her family right now. Sleep tight lovely xxxx."

Ged Jennings with wife Michelle who died in a taxi crash on the East Lancs in February

The family of Mr Sherwin said they had been "hoping for a miracle" which never came following the crash, near the Vikings Landing pub.

They told the ECHO how popular Mr Sherwin would be "sorely missed" and revealed his organs had been donated to give others "the gift of life".

Michael Hegarty, defending, said Howard expressed "profound remorse and regret" for his actions.

He added: "The defendant knows that words can never rectify the harm his actions have caused, which will live with the family and friends of Mr Sherwin and Mrs Jennings for the rest of their lives."

Howard, formerly of Windermere Avenue in St Helens, was also disqualified from driving for nine years and ordered to take an extended driving test before he is allowed to drive again.

Sentencing him, Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said: "The circumstances in which you caused their deaths are truly appalling – involving as they do a prolonged episode of outrageously bad driving.

"Indeed, cases of causing death by dangerous driving do not get much worse than this."

The judge said Howard's victims did not stand a chance and that, for them, it would have been as though they had been "hit by a missile".

Michelle Jennings, and her husband Ged and their children Sophia and Harry

He continued: "When you were speaking to police officers at the scene it was obvious to them that you were drunk. You also at that stage [were] seeking to put the blame for the collision on the taxi driver, claiming in effect that he must have gone through a red light.

"None of that is impressive, but I accept Mr Heggarty’s submissions that at that stage you would have been shaken up yourself and you were of course the worse for wear for drink.

"But it is a great shame that you did not accept responsibility at the time or soon after, or indeed at any time prior to the pre-trial preparation hearing a year after the incident."

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