Cadet death: Man jailed for killing rapper by dangerous driving

'As a father, I simply cannot imagine what you are going through' judge tells family of grime artist

Vincent Wood
Thursday 09 January 2020 17:52 GMT
28-year-old Blaine Cameron Johnson died in February 2019
28-year-old Blaine Cameron Johnson died in February 2019

A van driver who admitted he felt “a little drunk” before getting behind the wheel and killing up-and-coming rapper Cadet in a head-on collision with a taxi has been jailed for almost five years.

Jordan Birch, 23, had drunk six pints of beer before smashing into the vehicle at twice the speed limit on 9 February last year – a crash that proved fatal to the 28-year-old grime artist, real name Blaine Johnson, who had been on his way to a gig at Keele University.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Birch had veered onto the wrong side of the road while driving at speeds of more than 65 miles per hour in Wrinehill, Staffordshire, having just finished a drinking session at two separate licensed premises.

Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor Paul Spratt said: "Mr Johnson was a much loved brother, son and grandson and he was widely adored as a rising star of the music scene.

"He was plainly very talented as a musician and a singer. He was on the cusp of securing greater commercial success.”

The 23-year-old from Shropshire was tearful as he entered his guilty plea for death by dangerous driving in front of the family of the deceased musician. He also pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving to the taxi’s driver, Kashif Usman.

He will now serve four years and eight months behind bars, and will begin a two year driving ban after completing his sentence.

Sentencing Birch on 9 January, Judge David Fletcher said: "Mr Birch, you are 23 years of age and in the early hours of the morning you very foolishly walked to recover your vehicle and got into that vehicle - and you knew that you had had drink.

"You are not a man who is prone to doing this sort of thing on a regular basis - but you, by your plea of guilty, accept your responsibility.

"This was an aberration. An aberration it may be, but the consequences were catastrophic."

Before jailing Birch, the judge turned to Mr Johnson's family and said: "As a father, I simply cannot imagine what you are going through." He added he had listened to some of the rapper's work, describing it as "very impressive".

Defence barrister Peter Cooper, representing Birch, said the defendant was "full of remorse" – adding that his client “does not look forward to prison, but he knows that he deserves it”.

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