Lyme parents’ drug-drive warning after son’s death
- Credit: Archant
Pair had smoked cannabis on the night their car hit a tree, killing teenager William Ure
The parents of a 17-year-old Lyme Regis schoolboy who died in a late night accident have warned about the danger of drug-driving after hearing how their son had shared a joint with the driver.
Richard Weldon, of Colyton, had smoked cannabis with victim William Ure about four hours before the accident in which he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree.
Sixth-former William, known as Wil, died instantly in the accident in which Weldon may have fallen asleep at the wheel as he drove home shortly before 12.30am.
He failed to take any evasive action or use emergency braking despite the tree being visible for more than 100 metres and his car running along the verge or off the road for 40 metres.
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William’s parents Jane and Christopher Ure issued a statement warning that a car can be a lethal weapon after Weldon was freed on a suspended sentence at Exeter Crown Court.
They said: “Our son Wil had his young life taken away by the reckless actions of a friend. Drivers have a duty of care to passengers, other road users and pedestrians.
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“If you choose to drive under the influence of substances or with excessive speed, then you are in charge of a weapon which can result in devastating consequences.
“We hope that what happened to Wil serves as a warning to all drivers, young and old, to make responsible choices and drive safely. If not, then it could be you who is responsible for taking someone’s life, damaging your family and your victim’s family.
“Losing Wil and then having to go through a lengthy legal process has been deeply distressing and has changed our lives forever.”
Weldon and Wil had been on a night out together in Lyme Regis and Axminster in December 2016 before they set off together from Lyme Regis late at night and headed towards Seaton.
The two men had been friends for two years after meeting at the Royal Standard pub in Lyme Regis, where Weldon had worked and Wil had a part time job.
Weldon’s black Honda Civic crashed on a shallow left hand bend at Ware Cross on the A 3052 shortly afterwards. Wil died at the scene and Weldon suffered serious injuries.
Rescuers noticed a strong smell of cannabis on his clothes and a blood test showed cannaboids in his system, although at a level which would not necessarily made him unfit to drive.
The speedometer was jammed at 69 mph but it may have been damaged in the accident.
Weldon, aged 30, of Vicarage Road, Colyton, admitted causing death by careless driving and was jailed for six months, suspended for a year, curfewed for four months, and ordered to do 70 hours unpaid community work.
He was also banned from driving for two years by Judge David Evans, who paid tribute to the dignified and moving victim personal statements from Wil’s parents.
He told Weldon:”If you had been alert and paying full attention, as you should have been, you should have been able to adjust the steering to rejoin the carriageway.
“You simply lost attention. Whether you fell asleep or there was some other reason, cannot be discovered. There was no emergency braking.
“Toxicology indicated you had some cannabis at some time before the accident, it seems about four hours. The cannabis was not at such a high level that it would have impaired your driving, but whether it indirectly contributed to the accident by making you more tired; cannot be known for sure.”
Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said Weldon met Wil at the Royal Standard at around 7.30pm on the night of Friday 16, 2016, where he had a half of cider.
The pair were seen sharing a joint on a bench near the Co-op before they got a lift to and from Axminster with a friend. They went back to the Royal Standard briefly before leaving in Weldon’s car.
After the crash, a blood test showed no alcohol in his system but a level of cannabis which was not thought high enough to impair his driving.
He could not be interviewed for seven months. He said he could not remember the crash. He said he smoked cannabis every day but never drove under the influence of the drug.
Adam Morgan, defending, said Weldon wants to apologise to the victim’s family. He said the accident was the result of a catastrophic error of judgment but there is no evidence that use of cannabis was involved.
He suffered a broken hip, broken leg, two collapsed lungs, broken ribs, a lacerated liver and damage to his heart. He suffers nightmares. He has stopped using cannabis since the accident.