Drunk van driver who killed brother and sister in M4 crash jailed

A drink and cocaine-fueled van driver who killed two young children and injured their mother in a motorway crash has been jailed for nine years and four months.

Martin Newman, 41, admitted causing the deaths by dangerous driving of Jayden-Lee Lucas, three, and his four-year-old sister, Gracie-Ann Wheaton, at 1.45pm on Saturday February 5.

He further admitted seriously injuring their mother, Rhiannon Lucas, and to being twice over the drink driving limit and having traces of cocaine in his system.

Martin Newman, 41, admitted causing the deaths of Jayden-Lee Lucas, three, and Gracie-Ann Wheaton, four, by dangerous driving, and seriously injuring their mother Rhiannon (Family handout/PA)

(AP Mean)

The family, from Tredegar, had been returning from a birthday party and were heading to Techniquest in Cardiff when their car was hit by Newman’s Ford Transit on the M4 between junctions 28 and 29 near Newport.

The parents had pulled over on to the hard shoulder after Gracie-Ann complained of having a bad stomach and needing the toilet.

Newman, of Croeserw, can be seen behaving erratically on Traffic Wales cameras, weaving in and out of traffic and straddling the white line and was seen speaking on the phone, before he crosses three lanes and enters the hard shoulder in what appears to be an attempt to undertake a lorry.

Accident investigators found he was traveling at 70mph when he veered into the hard shoulder and braked two seconds before impact, hitting the back of the red Ford Fiesta in which the children were sitting at 57mph.

At the scene Newman was found crying with blood on his hands and saying he “wished he was dead”.

The children were rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the University Hospital of Wales, also known as the Heath Hospital, in Cardiff.

Gracie-Ann died the next day after suffering a cardiac arrest and her younger brother Jayden-Lee died less than a week later while their mother, Rhiannon Lucas, remained seriously injured in hospital for 10 days.

Newman told police he had been working as a painter and decorator in Leicester that week and the previous night had been drinking and taking cocaine until 5am and got only two hours sleep.

No sentence can compare to the unending suffering of those who most feel the loss of Gracie-Ann and Jayden-Lee

Judge Daniel Williams

The next morning he decided he was too hungover and tired to work and instead chose to drive the three-hour journey back to Bridgend.

He claims not to be able to remember how he got on to the hard shoulder but said he believes he must have fallen asleep.

An open bottle of red wine was found in the central cup holder, but Newman claimed he had only taken one sip of it during the journey because his “mouth was dry.”

Tests found he was over twice the legal blood alcohol level and still had traces of cocaine in his system.

Sentencing Newman to nine years and four months in prison, Judge Daniel Williams described his driving as “horrifying.”

And said: “This was the most serious level of dangerous driving. It involved a flagrant disregard for the rules of the road and an utter disregard for the danger you caused to others while driving.

“No sentence can compare to the unending suffering of those who most feel the loss of Gracie-Ann and Jayden-Lee.”

Newman will be expected to serve half his prison sentence in custody. He was also disqualified from driving for 14 years and eight months.

As Newman was taken down from the dock members of the public shouted “b*****” and “bull****”.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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