Driver ‘blind as a bat’ drunk killed man in horror crash

Gorton: Man staggers to car before causing death of Louis Dube

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A motorist “as blind as a bat” drunk killed a young man in a horror crash after boozing all day.

Ryan McElroy, 35, was caught on CCTV staggering away from his dad’s flat before getting into his car and driving at excessive speeds. A court heard McElroy’s Insignia appeared “out of thin air like the DeLorean” at a junction and ploughed into a Vauxhall Crossland, in which Louis Dube was a passenger.

Mr Dube, 25, was asleep in the car as his 30-year-old friend drove him home from a church function. The student suffered very serious and “unsurvivable” injuries, and his life-support was switched off four days later.

The driver, who herself suffered severe injuries, told a court: “It was like the DeLorean out of Back To The Future. It appeared in the middle of the road… like it was out of thin air.”

A judge heard McElroy’s car was travelling between 49mph and 60mph at the time of the crash on December 5 last year.

The defendant, who initially gave a false name and claimed “Dave from Broughton” had driven the car, eventually pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving; causing serious injury by dangerous driving; and driving while disqualified. He was jailed for 11 years and four months on Thursday at Manchester Crown Court.

McElroy had 276 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – more than three times the limit, Manchester Evening News reports.

Sentencing McElroy, Judge Patrick Field KC said it was clear Mr Dube was a “good and compassionate man who cared deeply about others”.

“He had a bright and fulfilling life ahead of him and he had those opportunities taken away from him,” the judge said.

“Your own father described that he was amazed when you arrived [earlier] that you were able to stand up. After two-and-a-half hours you left and drove away – obviously, you were very, very drunk at that point.

“There is no doubt this was a most serious case of dangerous driving. It was a prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving.”

Mr Dube was studying for a Masters degree in human resources and leadership in Christianity at the time of his death. He cared passionately about others, the court heard.

McElroy had driven to his dad’s house on the night in question, despite previously being banned from the road for drink driving, and only holding a provisional licence. He was seen on CCTV carrying a bag of booze

Philip Hall, prosecuting, said: “He arrived at the flat and said he had been drinking all day and continued to drink a significant amount of alcohol. At one point he was pouring just neat spirits into a glass,” the prosecutor said. He had also taken prescribed diazepam.

“After two-and-a-half hours he got up and left the flat without warning,” Mr Hall added. His dad described him as being ‘blind as a bat’ and ‘not in any fit state to be doing anything’.

“He said ‘I don’t trust him behind the wheel.'”

Footage played to the court showed McElroy leaving his dad’s flat, staggering along the corridor and falling into walls before eventually making it to the outer door. It took him 30 seconds to operate the door opening mechanism.

He stumbled around the car park in search of his vehicle, before opening it multiple times and struggling to get into the driver’s seat. Two minutes later he drove away, mounting a kerb.

Meanwhile, the Crossland carrying Mr Dube stopped briefly at a junction and a passengers got out. The driver then lawfully and safely attempted a three-point-turn..

Moments later, the car was hit side-on, sending it 26 metres down the road at speeds of up to 20mph.

A collision expert concluded there was “no evidence” the Insignia had attempted to brake and found the car was travelling between 49mph and 60mph at the time.

Police attended and found McElroy slumped in the car. He attempted to “deflect blame”, claiming his name was “James” and that somebody else had been driving.

He was later taken to the Manchester Royal Infirmary. A blood sample was taken. He had 276 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrams, the court heard.

In her victim impact statement, Mr Dube’s friend said: “I stayed in hospital until Friday 9th December 2022 and I went straight to Salford Royal Hospital to see Louis. When I was told they were switching off his life support machine I remember feeling like every bone had just been shattered in my body and the worst emotional pain I have ever felt in my life at this point.

“This incident has completely broken me. It has completely changed my life and turned it completely upside down. I am a child of God and forgiveness is part of my very fibre and whatever made the man who did this do what he did, I forgive him but I cannot say that his actions haven’t changed me as a person forever.”

Louis’ mother Nompi said in her victim impact statement: “Louis was not only my son, but he was also my best friend, my mentor and the spiritual giant of our house. I now have a hole in my heart that no-one will ever fill.

“When I sit and talk about Louis, I now have to live with the fact that I will never see him again. I will never see him married or have children of his own. I now have this persistent, intense yearning and sadness.

“I miss Louis so much. There is no break, every day in my mind there is a repeat, a record player of the insistent troubling thoughts and images of my son lying in a hospital bed, unconscious. I felt so helpless, I wanted to take his place, but I couldn’t.”

She added: “I would like to say to Ryan’s family that I hope you too can help Ryan find a meaningful purpose for his life; I sincerely release my pain of losing Louis through forgiveness. My heart breaks for you because you have lost him to a prison cell; I am deeply sorry for your loss.”

McElroy has 39 previous convictions for 61 offences, including driving while disqualified; aggravated vehicle-taking; and being drunk and disorderly. He was most recently before the courts in September 2022 for drink driving, just 10-and-a-half weeks before this incident, and was banned from driving for 25 months.

Adrian Palmer, defending, conceded “there [was] no mitigation”.

“If he could turn back the clock he would, but he can’t do anything now,” the lawyer added.

“It’s clear he accepts full responsibility, his remorse is genuine, his regret is genuine,” Mr Palmer said.

“He makes reference in his presentence report that he ‘owes one’ to the deceased, to change his life and turn it around, so that when he is released he can return to society, hopefully a changed man, a chastened man.”

McElroy, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, will serve two-thirds of his sentence in prison before he will be released on licence. He was also banned from driving for twelve-and-a-half years.

Mr Hall, Crown Advocate for CPS North West, said: “This is a truly tragic case. Ryan McElroy’s appalling decision to drive again whilst drunk so soon after being disqualified for doing the same resulted in a young man losing his life and a woman receiving serious injuries.

“Reading the Victim Impact Statements of Louis’ friend and mother is incredibly moving: they have both shown unbelievable courage. My thoughts are with them and all those who have been affected by Louis’ death.

“This case serves as a further reminder of the disastrous consequences of drink driving. Ryan McElroy will now face the consequences of his actions.”

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