Man jailed over second fatal crash
A learner driver who had already killed a friend in a drunken motorbike smash has been jailed for seven years after admitting causing the death by dangerous driving of his girlfriend while showing off in his sports car.
Graeme Eden, described as a "speed freak", was guilty of "horrific" driving, Judge Brian Forster said at Newcastle Crown Court as he also banned him from driving for 10 years.
He owned a succession of performance cars despite his high-speed motorbike crash in 2002 in which his passenger died, and despite never passing his test.
His partner Victoria Little, 30, died at the scene of his second crash having suffered multiple injuries. The much-loved carer was mother of a nine-year-old daughter.
The crash happened on the A183 Chester Road, Penshaw, near Sunderland, in November, when Eden lost control and his Toyota Celica GT4, which had a top speed of 150mph, drifted as he accelerated violently past a roundabout.
Glen Gatland, prosecuting, said: "Eden was a learner driver driving a potent and fast motorcar showing off in adverse conditions to his long-time partner and that behaviour caused her untimely death." Eden, 31, of Halesworth Drive, Sunderland, did not react as he was sentenced.
His partner's mother Sheila Bainbridge had previously warned him to slow down when she accompanied him in the Celica when the learner was driving on the same stretch of road. She said he was a speed freak and that he had driven so recklessly on that occasion that she felt sick afterwards.
"Despite my shouting and screaming he would not slow down," the court heard she told police. "He would not take any notice of what I was saying as an experienced driver."
Eden had already been convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol in 2002 - he was giving his friend John Hancock a lift on the back of his Yamaha 600cc machine at Eastgate, County Durham, when they both came off the machine at speed. His pillion passenger ended up in a garden and was killed after hitting a wall.
A statement on behalf of Ms Little's parents said: "Her death has devastated us all and is something that will always be difficult for us to come to terms with. Graeme Eden has deprived our granddaughter Paige of her mother, and her best friend. Whatever sentence was handed out, it would never be enough, as it could not bring our Victoria back."