A professional driver who killed a motorist while speeding at 108mph on a motorway has been jailed for just over three years.
Loui Curtis was at the wheel of a BMW 320 when he collided with Dr Gurpreet Singh Khraund’s Toyota Yaris on the M2 in Kent, in the early hours of August 3, 2020.
Curtis, 27, later tested positive for cocaine and four types of steroids in his body and failed an impairment assessment carried out more than three hours after the fatal crash.
A court heard the 27-year-old, a tanker driver by trade, had also sent a Snapchat message less than five minutes before the collision, which happened shortly before 1am.
Dr Khraund, a 43-year-old pharmacist from Rochester, Kent, was on his way home from work when the BMW struck the rear offside of his car and embedded itself into the metalwork.
The “high energy” impact forced the Toyota’s speed to accelerate by a staggering 46mph in 0.13 seconds, as the two vehicles, still attached to each other, careered off the motorway onto the hard shoulder.
The cars then climbed up a bank at the side of the road before ricocheting back across the two lanes and into the central reservation barrier.
Dr Khraund died at the scene from a traumatic brain injury as a result of the smash, on the London-bound carriageway just prior to the junction five exit at Sittingbourne.
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Curtis, said to suffer from autism and post-traumatic stress disorder, later described having to swerve out of the way of a car appearing at speed behind him and had no recollection of hitting the Toyota.
But prosecutor Lucy Luttman told Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, there was no evidence from other motorists of Curtis swerving and although a second speeding car had been seen prior to the collision it was in front of Curtis’s vehicle.
There was also nothing to link it to the crash and it was not suggested the vehicles had been racing each other.
Curtis subsequently estimated his driving speed to be 90mph – but this was proven to be false by his car’s own diagnostic mechanism.
Miss Luttman said Dr Khraund was “gently accelerating” at about 40mph in the inside lane when he was hit by the BMW as it moved from the outside lane.
“The defendant would have had a clear view on that road and the Toyota was there to be seen when the collision occurred,” she told the court.
“The evidence from a driver behind this incident makes no mention of him swerving….and described his manoeuvre as ‘moving over as normal’.
“He claims he had to get out of the way of a car coming up behind him and traveling faster than he was. There is no prosecution evidence to support that.
“This is a case of greatly excessive speed, driving while his ability was impaired, and with the (phone) distraction in the minutes leading up to the collision.
“His speed of 108mph was a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the rules of the road.”
Curtis was described at the scene as “panicking and very distressed” as he stood in the road asking for help for Dr Khraund.
A passing private ambulance stopped to assist, but despite their efforts and those of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The court heard the chemist had been working a few miles away in Canterbury and was heading to the home he shared with his mother.
Although Curtis initially tested positive for cocaine, the drug did not show up in a subsequent blood test and Curtis said he had last taken it a few days earlier.
He was also said to have been in shock and distress, as well as pain from his own facial and back injuries when he took the impairment test while being treated at hospital.
Of his steroid abuse, the court heard unused vials were found in his car. Curtis told police he was a regular gym-goer and had been taking them for about eight years.
Curtis, from Gillingham, Kent, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
Jailing him for three years and two months, Judge Julian Smith said the taking of steroids and prior use of his phone, although not resulting in any charges, were particularly aggravating features.
He also rejected Curtis’s claim he had driven into Dr Khraund’s lane to move out of the way of another car.
Judge Smith said: “This is not about a moment’s inattention. In that excessively high speed, this was a wholly unnecessary manoeuvre and you drove into the back of a car you should have seen for some significant period and there was a catastrophic impact.
“This was an extraordinarily dangerous piece of driving involving greatly excessive speed and a completely unjustified manoeuvre.”
On his use of steroids and their possible side effects, which include aggressive behaviour, hallucinations and delusions, Judge Smith added: “When you drive a car, particularly one as powerful and fast as you were, you take responsibility not just for that car and for yourself, but for those alongside you and also others on the road itself.”
The offense of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum jail term of 14 years.
The judge also imposed a driving ban for four years and nine months and ordered that an extended test be taken to regain his licence.
Curtis was said to have a clean driving license with “enhanced privileges” and a good work record but had lost his job as a result of the smash.
Maria Karaiskos, defending, told the court Curtis had tried to kill himself three times since the fatal smash.
“He accepts there is only one person to blame in this incident…he is a broken man,” she added.
At the time of his death, Dr Khraund was working as a locum chemist but the court was told he was just weeks away from running his own business.
His family described the former teacher as a ‘private, devoted man who was truly inspirational and a positive role model’.
Former colleagues at AMCO (Medway) Ltd posted a tribute on social media in which they said: “Preet was a true gentleman and a consummate professional.
“Nothing was too much trouble for him and he always had time to listen.
“Rest in Peace and sleep well our friend.”
Investigating officer PC Darren Chapman of Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit said after the sentencing on Thursday: “Curtis’ dangerous, and reckless behavior cost the life of an innocent motorist, who was heading home after work.
“Curtis got behind the wheel that night and drove at a grossly excessive speed, whilst also composing a rather pointless message.
“The speed he was driving caused the victim’s car to be accelerated by 40mph in just one-tenth of a second.
“Using a mobile phone at the wheel and speeding is inexcusable and puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk as evidenced in this case.
“His victim’s family have been left devastated and I hope this sentencing offers them some closure.”