Wrexham teenager died after drink-driver crashed car

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 A MAN who killed one of his best friends in a horrific crash has been jailed.

Drink-driver Denys Crowther Smith, 22, admitted causing the death of Matthew Latham-Jones, 17 from Penley by dangerous driving.

Smith, of Primrose Lane, Prees, was sentenced at Shrewsbury Crown Court after the crash on the B5476 Shrewsbury Road at Wem on October 10 last year.

Judge Robin Onions, who sentenced Smith to four years in prison and disqualified him from driving for four years, said driving was a privilege, not a right.

He said: “In passing sentence this court does not and cannot attribute any reflection of the value of Matthew’s life. All the court can do is pass a sentence to reflect the standard of your driving and the fact a life was lost.”

Mrs Joanne Barker, prosecuting, told the court the accident happened at about 1.40am after Crowther Smith decided to drive his car from Wem to Shrewsbury after hearing another friend may be having some trouble.

She told the court he had been seen drinking a number of alcoholic drinks throughout the night and originally had no intention of driving.

She said: “Matthew Latham-Jones sat in the front passenger seat and another man, Stephen, sat in the rear seat. It was very foggy as they began their journey.

“While there is no physical evidence of the defendant’s speed Stephen states he thought the defendant was driving too fast for the foggy conditions.

“Just before 1.40am on October 10 Stephen describes the defendant as turning his head to look left towards Matthew and losing control of the car and skidding across the road.”

The court was told the car travelled across the carriageway, collided with a hedgerow and struck timber posts which entered into the passenger side of the car where Mr Latham-Jones was sitting, before becoming airborne and crashing into a house. Mr Latham-Jones was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of his
injuries.

Due to his injuries a blood sample was not taken from Crowther-Smith until 4.20am and that showed there was no less than 100mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

The court was also told the car had no MOT and due to defective brakes would not have passed an MOT. The car was unroadworthy but the court was told that was not believed to have contributed to the crash.

Jane Dagnall, defending said Crowther Smith had lost someone who was like a brother to him.

She added: “The loss to Mr Latham-Jones’ family is known and consciously known by him.”

Mr Latham-Jones was a former pupil of the Maelor School in Penley.

Following his death his mother, Gaynor Latham-Chadwick, from Chapel Gardens, Penley, said her son “gave effortlessly” and was constantly helping people. She said Matthew just wanted to make people happy and hated seeing people upset.

Matthew’s stepfather, Mark Latham-Chadwick, said Matthew had the ability to “brighten people’s darkest days.”

See full story in the Leader

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