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A man has been jailed for eight years and eight months after ploughing through traffic in his van while high on cocaine, culminating in a head-on collision that killed a grandmother and seriously injured her husband.

Ray Reardon, 34, hit seven other vehicles with his van in Newport before crashing into 70-year-old Christine Rowe’s car. He fled the scene of the accident but was caught by police the same day.

Reardon was over six times the legal drug-driving limit, Cardiff Crown Court heard. He was also speeding at 59mph on the wrong side of the road in a 30mph limit area, jumped red lights and barged through other cars at around 7 pm on 5 June near Beechwood Park, Newport.

James Wilson, prosecuting said “It was the culmination of prolonged, persistent driving by the defendant characterised by aggression and disregard for other road users.

“His driving was aggravated further by consumption of cocaine, 6.5 times over the prescribed limit. He was consuming the drugs while driving.”

Managing director of an air-conditioning company, Reardon admitted causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to stop, and possession of class A drugs.

Witnesses state that they saw him tailgating, bumping into other cars, and ignoring the pleas of other drivers to stop as they confronted him.

“I’ve never seen any driving as bad or dangerous in my life. He was driving like a man possessed.”

Christine Rowe’s husband, Brian, had to be cut out of the car. The 80-year-old spent four weeks in the hospital with multiple fractures to his ribs. He also now suffers from short-term memory loss. His wife had acted as his full-time carer.

Reardon was also disqualified from driving for 14 years in addition to his prison sentence. The court heard that he also had previous convictions for dangerous driving.

Mrs Rowe’s daughter Joanne Tracy released a statement shortly after the hearing. She said: “Christine loved all her children and grandchildren with a ferocity that is hard to explain.

“When we were in the hospital family room, I have never seen such pain, confusion, sadness and shock in one room.

“Christine cared full-time for her husband Brian, who has asked several times where she is despite being told she is dead.”

On delivering the sentence, Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees said: “Your driving can only be described as appalling.

“You tailgated, undertook and drove at aggressive speeds causing drivers to take evasive action.

“You left a trail of damage and shocked drivers in your wake.

“No sentence this court passes can restore Mrs Rowe to her family or adequately reflect the loss or grief.”

After sentencing, CPS spokesman Janine Davies said “It is sometimes difficult to decide which charge reflects the manner of driving properly in law, but in this instance it was clear. Reardon had collided with several vehicles immediately before the fatal collision where he had simply tried to push his way between two lines of traffic.

“His consumption of cocaine was a factor in this case and the danger he posed to other road users that day was significant.

“Our sympathies are extended to the Rowe family for their loss,” she added.

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