A drink-driver who killed a University of Salford student after downing 10 pints has had his sentence slashed. David Turner drove an Audi into 19-year-old Gabriel Fields and then refused to co-operate with the police’s investigation.
Turner, who has a previous drink driving conviction in 2014, refused for his blood to be analysed, gave no comment to police when questioned and would not hand over his mobile phone to help officers in their investigation. He also did not consent for the police to access his hospital records or test his airbags for evidence of the speed the car was travelling when they went off.
However, following an appeal hearing, his prison sentence has been reduced by almost a year, LancsLive reports.
Gabriel had been staying with his family in Kirkham, Lancashire, during lockdown and had spent the evening playing with his younger sister and gaming on his X-Box. Shortly before 10pm he was walking to a local shop for snacks when he was struck by Turner, who had lost control of the Audi he was driving.
The car left the road, mounted the pavement, destroyed a bench and hit a tree. Gabriel was thrown in the air and died instantly, the court heard. Investigators found that at the point of impact, Turner was driving between 50 and 62mph, ‘most likely at the upper end of the bracket’.
The speed limit in Station Road, where the collision took place, is 20mph. Turner was knocked unconscious and one of his passengers was also seriously injured during the high-speed crash on July 4 2020.
During a hearing at the Court of Appeal, Turner’s barrister Russell Davies argued that he should have been given 30pc credit for his guilty plea instead of 25pc because he indicated he would plead guilty when he appeared at Preston Magistrates Court. Mr Davies said an indication of a guilty plea at that stage should attract a 30pc reduction in sentence as it spared Gabriel’s family the ordeal or a trial, and saved time and public money.
Bob Elias, prosecuting, argued the indication of a guilty plea had not been recorded unequivocally on the magistrates court committal papers and as no pre-sentence report had been ordered at that stage, the indication of a guilty plea could not be taken as read.
The Court of Appeal considered the evidence on both sides of the argument and concluded a guilty plea was indicated in the magistrates court. Mrs Justice McGowan said: “We find, according to the indication that was given and on further investigation, that the Crown Court should have afforded the appellant a reduction of one third.”
Turner’s sentence has been reduced from seven-and-a-half years to six years and eight months. His driving ban has also been cut to five years and 40 weeks.