'It's one of the worst fatal crashes that I've had to deal with'
THE policeman in charge of investigating the fatal crash said it was one of the worst he had been involved in.
Inspector Jim Allen, of Derbyshire police, said: "In all the years I've been dealing with fatalities, this is one of the worse cases I've had to deal with, one of the most complicated, one of the most emotionally charged. I can't recall another case where people stretched wide across such an amount of road are held accountable for their actions."
Derby Crown Court heard how the five cars involved in the crash drove from Ashbourne to McDonald's at Markeaton Island in Derby on October 20 last year.
They then set off back to the town in what Avik Mukherjee, prosecuting, described as a "high-speed convoy".
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He said: "It was competitive driving between friends who were encouraging each other to drive in a careless manner even though young and inexperienced."
Leading the convoy was David Edge, 18, followed by Liam Sowter, 19, Andrew Sellers, 18, Joseph Gregson, 19, and Oliver Beresford, 18.
It was on the approach to Kirk Langley that the crash happened.
Mr Mukherjee said: "The Corsa driven by Sellers exited a sweeping, left-hand bend and he was unable to keep control of the car."
The nearside of the car went into the opposite carriageway where it was hit by the car driven by Juliette Greenwood.
She was returning from Alton Towers with her daughters Alice, 12, and Clara, six.
Mr Mukherjee said the police investigation found the Greenwoods' car was travelling at about 50mph while Sellers was believed to have been driving "in the high 70s".
Alice was killed while sleeping on the back seat of the car while her mother was seriously injured. Clara survived.
Andrew and Liam Connell died of multiple injuries at the scene.
Andrew Baker, mitigating for David Edge, said other factors apart from speed must have played a part in the crash.
He said: "No-one will ever know what caused his vehicle to deteriorate as it did.
"Speed was doubtless a contributing factor but it can't have been the sole cause of the accident.
"The road could have been taken at greater speeds and yet the accident would not have occurred."
Yesterday, Sowter, of Mayfield Avenue, Mayfield, and Beresford, of Bellevue Road, Ashbourne, were sent to custody for two years and three months for three counts of causing death by careless driving.
Edge, of Cockayne Avenue, Ashbourne, and Gregson, of Church Lane, Mayfield, who admitted the same charges as well as making a false statement, were locked up for two years and nine months.
Jack Crooks, 18, of Booth Drive, Ashbourne; Georgina Spencer, 21, of Bradley Pastures, Bradley, and 17-year-old Liane Wherry all admitted making a false statement.
Crooks was sent to custody for six months, Spencer for nine months and Wherry was given a six-month detention and training order.
Edge, Gregson, Sowter and Beresford were all disqualified from driving for three years and told they must pass an extended driving test before regaining their licenses.
Judge John Gosling said he hoped each of the defendants felt "deeply remorseful" for their role in the crash.
He said: "Each of you drove in convoy, egging each other on. If only all 17-year-olds able to drive for the first time could be confronted with the facts of this case, what a lesson they would learn."
Alice Greenwood's mother Juliette said: "I'm reassured that justice has been delivered but no sentence will repair the damage that has been done."
The girl's father Ian added: "This is our life sentence."