Six years for dangerous drink driver who killed ‘larger than life’ Wisbech man in a five vehicle collision on A142 at Mepal

Six years for dangerous drink driver Stephen James (left) who killed ‘larger than life’ Wisbech man

Six years for dangerous drink driver Stephen James (left) who killed ‘larger than life’ Wisbech man Keith Howlett (right) in a five vehicle collision on the A142 at Mepal. - Credit: Archant

A drink driver who killed a Wisbech man after causing a five-vehicle collision has been jailed for six years.

Stephen James.

Stephen James. - Credit: Archant

Stephen James, 47, of Parkside, Haverhill, was two-and-a-half times the drink drive limit and on his way to work on the A142 at Mepal at 5.58am on December 20 last year when he overtook an artic lorry in his Nissan Patrol.

While attempting the manoeuvre, James collided into a central traffic island and crashed head on with a Vauxhall Vivaro travelling in the opposite direction. The driver of the van suffered life changing injuries.

His actions also caused the lorry to swerve into the path of the other carriageway and into 60-year-old Keith Howlett’s Vauxhall Corsa. Mr Howlett, from Wisbech, suffered fatal injuries and sadly died at the scene.

The driver of another Vauxhall Corsa was also caught up in the crash and suffered minor injuries.

Keith Howlett.

Keith Howlett. - Credit: Archant

Forensic collision investigator PC James Thorne said: “James robbed a family and friends of Keith just five days before Christmas after knowingly consuming a vast quantity of alcohol the night before he was due to start work at 6am.

“Running late and compounded due to his deplorable level of intoxication he made the decision to overtake a lorry in a place which was wholly inappropriate.

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“We welcome the sentence today and hope it serves as a stark reminder and deterrent to those who drink and drive.

“If in doubt, don’t drink or don’t drive, the consequences can be fatal and far more devastating than you might think.”

At Peterborough Crown Court today James was sentenced to six years imprisonment after previously pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

He was disqualified from driving for 10 years and ordered to take an extended retest.

Mr Howlett’s wife, Joy, said: “Keith went out to work that morning happy, smiling and looking forward to Christmas with his family but never came back.

“He was larger than life and a real family man. We’re all devastated by what has happened.

“Anyone thinking of getting in a car after a night of drinking please just stop and think about the consequences of your actions.”