Drink driver jailed for killing three in head-on crash on wrong side of road

Tommy Whitmore was more than twice over the legal limit at time of head-on collision

Peter Stubley
Monday 20 May 2019 16:34
After pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, Whitmore was sentenced to eight years and four months imprisonment
After pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, Whitmore was sentenced to eight years and four months imprisonment

A drink-driver who killed three people in a head-on car crash after going the wrong way down a dual carriageway has been jailed for more than eight years.

Tommy Whitmore spent the evening drinking and smoking cannabis before getting behind the wheel of his Ford Ranger pick-up truck shortly before midnight.

Just minutes after beginning his journey home the 26-year-old drove down a slip road into oncoming traffic on the westbound A1139 in Peterborough.

He then collided with the Renault Megane driven by Marko Makula, 22, who was driving home with his fiancee Jana Kockova, 21, and her 19-year-old brother Tomas Kocko.

Prosecutor Peter Gair told Cambridge Crown Court there was no time for Mr Makula to take evasive action.

The force of the head-on impact caused both cars to be thrown into the air and all three in the Megane died at the scene.

“The defendant was in a larger vehicle and whilst he had some injuries it was relatively speaking very minor,” Mr Gair said. "He was able to get out of the vehicle. He stayed at the scene, he sat on the crash barrier.”

A roadside breath test showed Whitmore was more than twice over the limit for alcohol. He was also over the legal limit for cannabis.

He had drunk at least two bottles of beer, some Guinness and a small amount of gin since finishing work at a market at 3pm on Saturday 13 April.

The court heard his girlfriend had warned him not to drive home after their night out together and urged him to sleep in his car.

His barrister Claire Matthews described him as a “hard-working young man with a five-year-old daughter”, adding: “This was in my submission a short piece of bad driving with catastrophic consequences.”

Sentencing him to eight years and four months, judge David Farrell QC told Whitmore: “You made a deliberate decision to drive despite being grossly intoxicated.”

He said this resulted in Whitmore being “unable to read the road and signs which would have been obvious to a sober driver”.

Whitmore, who wept as he was led to the cells, was also banned from driving for nine years and two months.

Mr Makula and Ms Kockova had two young children, aged one and two, who are being looked after at home.

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The families of the three victims said in an impact statement that they felt “indescribable pain” and the “mental wounds may never heal”.

PC Kevin Drury of Cambridgeshire Police said: “There is no sentence that can bring back the parents of the two young children who have been orphaned by Whitmore’s actions or bring comfort to the families of the three young victims but Whitmore is now behind bars and being punished. Driving while drunk and under the influence of drugs is extremely reckless, incredibly dangerous and, as this case demonstrates, can have fatal consequences.

“Anyone considering drinking or taking drugs and getting behind the wheel should pay heed to this case, which has devastated three families and led to a lengthy prison sentence for a young man.”

Additional reporting by Press Association