A DRINK-driver who filmed himself on a mobile phone saying he was “smashed” minutes before a fatal crash that left a 29-year-old woman dead, has been jailed.
Anton Hull, of Galhampton, was driving a Ford Transit van home after drinking in a pub in South Cadbury when the crash happened, near Wincanton in August last year.
Hull’s vehicle collided with a Volkswagen car being driven in the opposite direction by Sarah Baker, of Kent, but who lived in London.
In a sickening find, police discovered video on 21-year-old Hull’s phone which showed him filming himself before the fatal crash, saying he was “smashed”.
Tragically Sarah, who was on her way to Somerset for a weekend away, was pronounced dead at the scene.
After Hull was jailed, her family said: “The loss of Sarah has left a gaping hole in our hearts. Over a year has passed and every single day, we have struggled to know how to carry on without her.”
The crash happened at Anchor Hill at around 11.05pm on August 18 last year, when two people found the scene and called police.
One of them told the call-handler they suspected Hull had been drinking alcohol as his speech was slurred, which was supported by other motorists who also encountered the scene. Another said 21-year-old Hull “stank of booze”.
He required medical treatment at Yeovil District Hospital, where a blood test was taken, and it was estimated Hull would have been approximately one-and-a-half or two times over the legal drink-drive limit at the time of the crash.
During the investigation, police spoke with people who worked at the pub in South Cadbury where Hull had being drinking in the hours leading up to the collision.
They were told he had consumed a number of alcoholic drinks, including rum and lager, and had been refused service at about 10.30pm due to being drunk. He was also advised by a number of people to leave his vehicle in the car park, but refused.
Hull refused to provide police with the passcode for his mobile phone but analysis work was still possible and videos were found on it which showed he had recorded himself while at the wheel implying he was intoxicated. He said he was “smashed”.
He pleaded guilty to one count of causing death by dangerous driving last month and was sentenced on Friday (November 17) at North Somerset Courthouse to six years in prison and a nine-year driving ban. Hull will have to pass an extended re-test before being allowed to regain his licence.
His Honour Judge Edward Burgess, addressing Hull, said: “Your dangerous driving killed Sarah Baker, having made a selfish decision to drive despite warnings, knowing full well you were too drunk to do so.
“Your driving was significantly impaired, and you used your phone to record yourself driving in an intoxicated state.
“Words cannot do justice to the enormity and needless tragedy of this incident.
“You have no one to blame but yourself for your injuries.”
WARNING: Some people may find the video upsetting
Sarah’s family added: “Sarah was 29 years old, she had just finished a masters degree and in her last days, put in an offer to buy her first home.
“Sarah had spent the last four weeks of her life supporting her sister with her newborn baby and was simply driving to Somerset to have a weekend away.
“She was the most caring, loyal and generous daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and most recently aunty anyone could hope to have in their lives.
“The immeasurable pain we feel is so unnecessary when Sarah’s death was entirely preventable. The utterly selfish act of one individual has ended her life and ruined those lives around her.”
Officer in the case, Dai Nicholas, said: “My heart goes out to the family of Sarah Baker. She was only 29 years old and had her whole life ahead of her before it was cruelly snatched away in this tragic incident.
“Anton Hull made a conscious decision to drive to the pub. He made a conscious decision to drink lager and rum. He then made a catastrophic conscious decision to drive home, when he was clearly unfit to. That he filmed himself on his own phone just increased the level of risk even more.
“We are grateful to all the witnesses who helped our investigation so we could piece together the full events of this tragic night and secure this conviction.
“In the next few weeks in the run up to Christmas the public will no doubt hear police, road safety campaigners and countless other people talk about the dangers of drink-driving.
“Cases like this show why we want everybody to be aware of the risks and we make no apology for that. But Sarah’s death also shows the devastating impact of drink-driving is not just an issue at Christmas time.
“Sarah’s family have experienced incredible pain and today’s sentence won’t end that. We desperately hope though that awareness of what happened to her stops someone in future from getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, because doing so can kill.”