Driver, 22, jailed for eight years for causing death of couple travelling at 107mph at Pentrefoelas

Reporter:

Staff reporter (NW Pioneer)

A 22-year-old man who killed a couple when he lost control of his car at more than 103mph on a country road popular with "petrolhead" drivers was jailed for eight years.

Shaun Goldstraw, of Tulip Way, Leek, Staffs, was also banned from driving for twelve years and ordered to take an extended test.

He admitted causing the deaths of Tracy Haley and Darren Lowe by driving a Renault Clio dangerously on the A543 at Pentrefoelas, near Betws y Coed, on February 27, 2016.

Tracy Haley, 49, of Bagillt, was a front-seat passenger in a Mercedes SLK driven by her partner of nine years Mr Lowe, 43, a joiner, also of Bagillt, when it was involved in a head-on collision.

Judge Niclas Parry told Goldstraw at Mold Crown Court :"This was deliberate risk-taking for thrills, an act of bravado for the purpose of self-pleasure and social media self-congratulation."

Judge Parry said Goldstraw had travelled with others from North West England for the sole purpose of using country roads in North Wales "as a racetrack."

The so-called "Evo triangle", a 20-mile circuit, had been made popular by a magazine. High-performance cars would be driven around it and often photographed for social media.

The court heard Goldstraw drove three non-competitive "sighting laps" to assess the route before doing it anti-clockwise. Judge Parry said immediately prior to the smash, Goldstraw was doing 103mph-107mph on a road with a 60mph limit.

Losing control of his car, he went into the opposite carriageway and into the path of the victims' Mercedes which was being driven in an "entirely proper manner." They had no time to avoid him.

Judge Parry told Goldstraw :"This entirely selfish act caused the deaths of two people. Real lives have been devastated."

He remarked :"This was prolonged, persistent and deliberate very bad driving. It was effectively competitive driving."

Prosecuting counsel Simon Parry said Tracy Haley died at the scene along with her dog and Mr Lowe was airlifted to hospital at Stoke on Trent where he died a month later. Goldstraw had a "near-miss" on a previous lap of the Evo triangle.

Gordon Hennell, defending, said Goldstraw apologised and accepted he didn't deserve forgiveness. The defendant and his family understood the enormity of the "great wrong" he had done.

Heartbroken Debbie Orme,48, who lost her sister 30 years after another double-tragedy road crash killed her 21-year-old brother and whose mother had just died from cancer in February last year, told the court that "once again" the family had been the victims of an irresponsible driver.

She said Goldstraw, who had been thrown from his car and landed in a field, had posted a photograph of himself and his girlfriend on Facebook after his discharge from hospital. "There was no mention of remorse," she told the judge. He also talked online about buying a new car.

Outside court she said the tragic couple had been "full of fun, really happy with each other." She remarked:"They had finally met their soul mates."

She said the deaths had been devastating.

The sister added :"Our thoughts towards the defendant are what you would expect them to be We hate him for what he has done. We are bitter towards him.

"We know the sentence was hefty and we are pleased about that. But none will ever bring our family members back. Whatever he got would never have been enough."
Tracy Haley had two children and a granddaughter.

Michelle Naden, 39, who lost her brother, said :"The judge has given him the strictest sentence he's able to give. But at the end of the day he will only do about four years. My whole family has pretty much gone now."

Mandy Pritchard, 53, older sister of Tracy, said about the latest tragedy for the family:"It affects us day-to-day. Is it going to happen again?

"We never thought we would be doing this again. We are anxious the whole time. It's devastated us." 

See full story in the Free Press

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