Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Mechanic jailed for fatal crash

Martin Li, from Hexham, was jailed for eight years after he admitted killing 18-year-old Lucy Duggan in a head-on crash as he raced his turbo-charged car (Northumbria Police/PA)
The family of Lucy Duggan said she loved life and lived it to the full (Northumbria Police/PA)

A car mechanic who posted videos online of himself driving erratically has been jailed for causing the death of a teenage passenger and injuring four others.

Martin Li, from Hexham, Northumberland, admitted killing 18-year-old Lucy Duggan in a head on crash as he raced his turbo charged car.

The 22-year-old had collected Ms Duggan, along with a friend and another teenage girl, after agreeing to give them a lift to a nearby town on August 25.

But he began to drive at excessive speeds, in a car he had only gained insurance for after lying about his age.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that before the crash, the girls in the car had begun to scream for him to stop as they said he reached speeds of 130mph.

Paul Rowland, prosecuting, said he had floored the accelerator, at one point overtaking two vehicles in a single manoeuvre, and said the bends were his "favourite bit".

As they approached a sharp left turn over a bridge, he crossed over to the other side of the road in an attempt to straighten out the bend.

But on returning to the correct side of the road, the car began to skid across the carriageway and smashed into an oncoming vehicle.

Li emerged from the car "virtually unscathed" but Ms Duggan was left with fatal internal injuries.

The other two passengers and the mother and daughter in the other car were all seriously injured.

Pleading guilty to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving in August, Li also admitted four counts of causing injury by dangerous driving as well as making false statements to obtain insurance.

Sentencing Li to eight years in jail, Judge John Evans said the speed he was doing and the nature of the road made a collision inevitable.

He said the police had found videos online in which he had been driving extremely fast and that speeding was something he craved.

"You have blighted their lives and in particular that of Lucy's father," he said.

"No sentence I can possibly impose today can begin to compensate them for the loss of their loved one who will occupy their thoughts indefinitely.

"You killed someone needlessly and selfishly and if it haunts you for the rest of your life no one will shed a tear or deem it fitting."

Imposing a driving ban of ten years, Judge Evans said he had wrought appalling devastation on five families, including his own.

Reacting to the sentence, the family of Ms Duggan said she loved life and lived it to the full.

"The devastating accident that took our wonderful daughter from us on Sunday August 25 has rocked our world and shattered so many precious dreams," they said.

"Lucy loved life and lived it to the full, her constant smile brought sunshine into the lives of all she met. She lived her life in full confidence that everything would be OK and we have tried to draw from her positive outlook to get us through."

Sergeant Phil Patterson, of Northumbria Police motor patrols, said: "Lucy Duggan died as a result of the actions of Martin Li, whose driving that day was the worst I have had to investigate in 15 years.

"He had a total disregard for other people's safety and his driving was the equivalent to playing Russian roulette, driving at speed on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend.

"He is now serving a considerable sentence and has been banned for 10 years. I hope this sentence serves as a strong deterrent to young drivers who drive like Martin Li on a daily basis and put other people's lives at risk."

Some of the posts reportedly made on Li's Facebook page weeks before the crash included on-board videos and rants against other road users.

After posting one particular video of him passing extremely close to a motorbike and then overtaking on a bend, he was even warned of the danger by some of his friends.

One commenter wrote "Slow down or at least be a bit more careful", and another said: "Imagine if your brakes had faded on that last corner... two deaths on your hands."

In another post, Li warned cyclists that he would pass them as close and as fast as he could.

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