Van driver who caused M4 crash that killed young brother and sister jailed

Martin Newman, 41, has been jailed after he crashed into a stationary car on the hard shoulder on the M4, killing Gracie-Ann and Jayden-Lee Lucas

Three-year-old Jayden-Lee Lucas and 4-year-old Gracie-Ann Wheaton were killed

A van driver has been jailed over a motorway crash that killed a young brother and sister.

Martin Newman sobbed in the dock before being sentenced to nine years and four months in prison – though will likely only serve half inside.

The 41-year-old’s Ford Transit collided with a vehicle carrying Gracie-Ann Lucas, four, and her three-year-old brother Jayden-Lee Lucas.

Both of the siblings were also known by the surname Wheaton, WalesOnline reports.

The defendant had been drinking and taking drugs before he drifted from the outside lane of the M4 in Newport, South Wales, and smashed into the back of a stationary car on the hard shoulder.

Gracie-Ann died the next day, while Jayden-Lee survived for five more days.

Jayden-Lee and Gracie-Ann Lucas had stopped on the hard shoulder when the crash happened



Their mother, Rhiannon Lucas, was badly injured.

The crash happened on the westbound carriageway between junctions 28 and 29.

The siblings, from Tredegar, were being driven home from a birthday party when the car they were traveling in was struck by a Transit.

Newman of South Avenue in Croeserw, Cymmer, Neath Port Talbot, admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

He has also pleaded guilty to causing serious injury to Ms Lucas by dangerous driving.

Hundreds of people lined the streets for a funeral procession after the children’s deaths


WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

He had been remanded in custody prior to Friday’s sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, where he also admitted charges of drink-driving and drug-driving.

The court was told of Newman’s erratic driving in the build-up to the fatal crash.

Outlining the facts of the case prosecutor Roger Griffiths said: “At 1.40pm on Saturday, February 5, this year there was a fatal collision between a white Ford Transit van driven by Martin Newman and a red Ford Fiesta containing Adam Saunders, Rhiannon Lucas, and her two children.

Jayden-Lee was described as a “wonderful, creative and a kind soul”



Gracie-Ann was said to have a “bright future ahead of her”



“The Ford Fiesta was stationed on the hard shoulder. Gracie-Ann said she had a bad stomach and needed to stop for a wee.

“Mr Saunders stopped his car on the hard shoulder and Ms Lucas got out to tend to her daughter’s needs and returned to the front passenger seat.

“The defendant’s white Transit van had drifted from lane three to the hard shoulder colliding with the rear of the Ford Fiesta with catastrophic consequences.

“Tragically Gracie-Ann and Jayden-Lee died from the injuries they sustained in the collision and their mother sustained serious injuries to her liver.”

Newman is disqualified from driving for 10 years with an extension of four years and eight months while he is in custody.

He will be required to pass an extended driving test before being able to regain a license.

The defendant will serve half of his sentence in custody before serving the rest of the sentence on license.

Cousin Jamie Lucas, 19, from Abergavenny, previously described Jayden-Lee as a “wonderful, creative and a kind soul” who “turned the gray skies into blue.”

He also described Gracie-Ann as a “wonderful child” with a “bright future ahead of her”.

He added: “She was very smart, she was very creative. She had a really great imagination as well. She was just fantastic to be around.”

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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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