A motorist, who was filmed driving in excess of 100mph minutes before a fatal collision that killed two women, has received a sentence of more than 19 years.
Liam Slade, 33, was disqualified from driving at the time of the incident, that happened on the M4 eastbound between junctions 22 and 21 near The Prince of Wales Bridge in July.
He was at the wheel of a VW Passat when it collided with a Peugeot 207 and fled the scene.
Families’ ‘complete agony’
Suad Ahmed, 68, and Saado Hussein, 58, who were passengers in the Peugeot died at the scene. The car’s other three occupants all needed hospital treatment. One of them sustained neck fractures, while another broke five ribs and fractured a shoulder blade.
All five were all on their way back from a wedding in Cardiff at the time of the collision.
The family of Suad Ahmed said in a victim personal statement it was ‘impossible’ to summarise how the events of that day had impacted them, saying it was ‘torture’ not to hear from her each day.
They added: “This person who appears in court today has affected all of our family’s hearts in a way no one can imagine.
“It is complete agony to know that we have to live with this nightmare for the rest of our lives.”
Saado Hussein’s family described her death as a ‘gut-wrenching pain that will never go away’, adding the unavoidable consequence of not being able to quickly bury their mother in accordance with their faith made it all the harder still.
They added: “Our hearts are aching. And will ache forever.
“There’s nothing this court or anyone else can do to bring back mum.
“For us there will never be full justice. But we hope and pray that this driver is not in a position to cause anyone else the pain and never-ending heartbreak our family has had to endure.”
Slade driving dangerously
Emergency services were called to the collision at approximately 12.05am on Monday 17 July. The M4 was closed for several hours while efforts were made to help the injured, and collision investigation work was carried out.
Witnesses told police Slade had been seen to drive at high speed, estimated to be 100-120mph, and in a dangerous manner. He was said to be weaving the Passat between vehicles and undertaking.
A video was found during the course of enquiries recorded by the front seat passenger Slade was driving. Taken approximately four minutes before the collision, it shows the speed-o-meter above 100mph, supporting the accounts provided by witnesses.
Slade was arrested at his home address in Newport the day after the collision. During police interview, he told officers he’d woken up to find multiple scratches on his face, legs and body and did not know where they had come from.
Slade pleaded guilty to two counts each of causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by driving while disqualified and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated offence of failing to comply with a serious crime prevention order.
His Honour Judge William Hart described Slade as ‘a man with a deplorable record with no regard to the law’, before handing him a custodial sentence of 19 years and eight months, which includes five years of extended licence.
Slade also received a driving disqualification of 19 years and nine months. He’ll have to pass an extended test too should he ever wish to regain his licence.
Officer in the case Dai Nicholas said: “What should have been a night of celebration, turned into a tragedy that months on is still hard to comprehend.
“Suad Ahmed and Saado Hussein were returning from a wedding when they were killed by the dangerous driving of Liam Slade. His actions left a further three people hurt, two of them seriously, and they are continuing to recover from the physical injuries sustained that night.
“Slade had been disqualified from driving in January for a drink-driving offence. He should never have been behind the wheel that night, let alone travelling at the reckless speed he was. He committed two of the most dangerous acts any motorist can do on the roads.
“Given the choice of calling for help for those he had harmed or protecting himself, he chose to run away.
“Even when he was arrested he still refused to own up to what he had done. His guilty pleas come in the face of irrefutable evidence about how dangerous his driving was.
“Our hearts go out to both families who have been left devastated by what unfolded on the M4 that night.
“They have shown incredible courage to prepare victim personal statements for the court and are grateful for the support they have shown to us throughout our enquiries.”