Drink-driver jailed after 72mph crash kills student in 20mph zone

Drink driver, 31, killed student, 19, as he hit speeds of 72mph in 20mph zone after ‘getting wasted’ when pubs reopened after lockdown

  • David Turner ploughed into 19-year-old student Gabe Fields in Kirkham, Lancs 
  • The drink-driver was driving nearly four times the speed limit in a 20mph street  
  • Fields died instantly after Turner’s Audi S3 mounted the pavement and hit him 

A drink driver who downed 10 pints on the first day pubs opened after lockdown and killed a 19-year-old student while travelling at ‘motorway speeds’ in a 20mph zone has been jailed.

David Turner, 31, drove ‘like a maniac’ in his £30,000 Audi S3, reaching speeds of 72mph and revving his engine ‘like a racing car driver’ in Kirkham, Lancashire when he hit a pedestrian.

He and friends had admitted July 4 – the first day pubs re-opened after lockdown last summer – was seen as an ‘opportunity to get wasted’. 

Gabriel Isaac Fields, 19 and a student at the University of Salford, died instantly when Turner mounted the pavement and ploughed into the teenager.

Turner was jailed for ten years after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Passengers in Turner’s car compared his driving that evening to ‘a white knuckle ride’ and admitted no-one would have stood a chance if there had been a crash. 

David Turner, 31, drove ‘like a maniac’ in his £36,000 Audi S3, reaching speeds of 72mph and revving his engine ‘like a racing car driver’ in Kirkham, Lancashire when he hit a pedestrian

Gabriel Isaac Fields (pictured), 19 and a student at the University of Salford, died instantly when Turner mounted the pavement and ploughed into the teenager

Bob Elias, prosecuting, told Preston Crown Court Turner was socialising with friends on July 4 last year – the first day pubs reopened after lockdown,

Giving evidence one of the group, Courtney Patton, said: ‘This was our first opportunity to let our hair down and it was our opportunity to get wasted.’

At around 6pm Turner and his wife needed to leave to see their babysitter. Ms Patton also went with them as she wanted to buy cigarettes.

But Ms Patton said: ‘This small journey was the worst car journey I have ever had.’

She described Turner as driving so fast his wife screamed at him to slow down and said no one would have stood a chance in a collision.

Ms Patton said: ‘It was like a white knuckle ride.’

The group returned to the pub, but at around 10pm an argument broke out between Ms Patton and another friend, Elizabeth Newton, so Turner offered to take Ms Newton home.

Shortly before 10pm Mr Fields was walking along Station Road, Kirkham, to buy snacks from the Co-op where he also worked part-time.

Around the same time, Turner sped away from the carpark of The Swan Hotel on Poulton Street with his wheels spinning in the gravel.

As Turner turned onto Station Road he lost control of the vehicle and mounted the pavement, hitting Mr Fields before colliding with a bench and a tree.

Emergency services were on the scene within minutes, but Mr Fields could not be saved.

The psychology student suffered catastrophic injuries and died instantly. All four passengers in Turner’s vehicle were also injured in the crash, the court heard.

Accident investigators later concluded the Audi was driving up to 70mph before it collided with the kerb.

Mr Elias said: ‘This accident was not the result of momentary inattention of the defendant. He was an accident waiting to happen.

‘Throughout the afternoon he had driven at excessive speeds and bullied traffic.

‘Passersby had noticed and commented on his driving. His aggressive driving meant a car crash was inevitable.

‘That he killed Gabriel Fields turns that into a complete tragedy.’

The aftermath of the crash in which David Turner killed 19-year-old student Gabriel Fields

In a moving victim impact statement, Mr Fields’ mother, Jacqueline Blache-Rostron, paid tribute to her ‘kind and caring son.’She said he dreamed of visiting the USA and was proud of his US citizenship. 

Ms Blache-Rostron said: ‘My last words to my son were: ‘Have fun, be careful, see you in a bit,’ only I never got to see him again and he never got to see me again.’

She described hearing the sirens and worrying where her son was.

Ms Blache-Rostron said: ‘My heart stopped and my stomach was turning – I was already watching the clock wondering where Gabe was because he always kept in touch with me.’

She described the moment her husband Adam, who had gone out to look for Mr Fields, phoned her.

Ms Blache-Rostron said: ‘This is when my life fell apart.’

She described her son as a loving brother, son and stepson, who never had the chance to complete his degree, get married or have children.

Sentencing, Judge Heather Lloyd told Turner: ‘You decided to drive in a temper, aggressively, and with alcohol in your body and at levels of speed which were more appropriate to motorway driving.

‘This is an area you knew well, these were roads you knew well.

‘Had you not been drunk, angry and driving on alcohol, had you been fully in control, it is likely you would not have come off the road and killed Gabriel.

‘He had only popped out to get snacks and his family will have to for the rest of their lives with the consequences of your criminal and selfish behaviour.

‘You put your own needs and a reckless desire to drive while unfit before the safety of others.

‘Your passengers were injured and so were you.

‘Although Elizabeth Newton gave no thought as to whether you were fit to drive, your passengers must have realised what state you were likely to be in and chose to get in the car with you.

‘By doing so they all arguably encouraged you to get in the car when they should have not got in the car with you and encouraged you not to drive.’

Ms Newton also suffered serious injuries in the collision, including a shattered pelvis and is still recovering from her physical and mental injuries, the court heard.

When interviewed by police, Turner gave no comment and refused to give consent for a blood sample, taken while he was unconscious at the scene, to be sent for analysis.

Russell Davies, mitigating, said Turner had a wife and family who would be affected by his imprisonment.

But Judge Lloyd said: ‘You [Turner] did not care about the risks you were taking for yourself or any other innocent person.

‘You will eventually be able to rebuild your life. Your children will be able to see their father again.

‘Gabriel’s family will never have that opportunity.’

Turner will also be banned from driving for five years upon his release from prison, and must sit an extended re-test.

Speaking after the case, Sgt Finn Quainton, of Lancashire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: ‘Gabriel’s death was totally unnecessary.

‘It happened because of David Turner’s complete disregard for the drink-driving laws and because he drove so selfishly fast that he lost control of the car. 

‘Gabriel Fields had no alcohol in his system and was innocently walking on the pavement’.

‘David Turner was in fact an accident waiting to happen. Through that afternoon Turner had driven at excessive speed and bullied traffic. 

‘His aggressive driving meant a car crash was, in fact, inevitable. That he killed Gabriel Fields turned that into a tragedy’.

‘My thoughts today remain with all of Gabriel’s loved ones and I hope that today’s sentence can bring them at least some comfort.’

Ms Blache-Rostron added: ‘It is very difficult to put into words the impact of losing a child. Gabe was a kind, gentle, smart and funny young man. 

‘Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the devastation and emptiness you feel when you are told that your child, someone that you gave birth to, are meant to protect, who you would do anything for, who you love more than anything else in this world, that they will never come home.

‘You will never see him again, you will never hug him again, you will never tell him that you love him again and you will never tell him how proud you are of him. All because of the actions of that man.’ 

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