A van driver who killed a mother-of-two after drinking six pints of beer and taking cocaine asked police officers if his victim was alive.
Ashley Dean, 40, killed his friend Lisa Birtwistle, 32, in a crash on Blackpool Road in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, on March 23 last year.
Dean had downed six pints of Peroni and sniffed a line of cocaine ‘to sober him up’ before getting behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Vivaro van, Preston Crown Court heard.
Footage released by Lancashire Police shows him telling officers ‘At least tell me if she’s alive.’ in the back of the van after being asked to blow into a breathalyser following the crash.
In the clip, police tell Dean that they cannot confirm that information, and later arrest him on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Ashley Dean asked police officers if the mother-of-two he killed in a crash was still alive while being breathalysed in the back of a police van
Lisa Birtwistle, 32, was killed by her friend Dean in a fatal crash in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire on March 23 last year
Ms Birtwistle was pronounced dead at Blackpool Victoria Hospital the same night.
As she lay dying in the road, Dean, a painter and decorator, phoned his wife and disposed of three bags of cocaine in an alley close to the collision.
A passing motorist stopped to help Ms Birtwistle, calling 999 and administering CPR until the paramedics arrived.
Dean, of Argyll Road, Poulton-le-Fylde, has been jailed for nine years and five months after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing death while driving without insurance.
Sentencing, Judge Ian Unsworth said: ‘You did nothing to help her.’
Peter Barr, prosecuting, told the court that on March 23 Dean had parked at the Castle Gardens pub on Poulton Road shortly after 4pm. He had arranged to get a lift home from his wife, he said.
Ms Birtwistle was already in the pub with her friend Danielle Eastwood. The pair planned to stay until 7pm but Ms Birtwistle called her parents and asked them to put her children to bed, so they could stay out a little longer.
Witnesses said Dean was ‘drunk, intoxicated and giddy’. As Ms Eastwood left the pub at 8pm, she warned Ms Birtwistle: ‘Don’t get in the van with him if he drives.’
CCTV showed Dean leaving the pub at 8:40pm to pick up three bags of cocaine. Ms Birtwistle left at 8:42pm to head home. But as she crossed the car park she encountered Dean returning to the pub and was persuaded to go back for another drink.
At 10:15pm, Dean left the pub and got in his van with Ms Birtwistle in the passenger seat. As he drove down Blackpool Road – doing 45mph to 50mph in a 30mph zone – he lost control of the van on a sweeping left hand bend.
Dean (pictured) had consumed six pints of Peroni beer and a line of cocaine before getting behind the wheel
The van spun 180 degrees and collided with a stone gatepost, resting on two wheels with the other wheels in the air. Lisa was thrown from the vehicle and into the road where she lay fatally injured.
Judge Unsworth told Dean: ‘At that stage your thoughts weren’t for Lisa but for your own self preservation. You unclipped your seatbelt and got out of the vehicle. If you looked at her it must have been momentary.
‘The occupant of a passing vehicle stopped. He parked his vehicle in the middle of the road and put his hazard warning lights on. He saw Lisa on the floor and went to try to help her.
‘He saw you standing by the rear of the van. When he asked you what had happened, you said you didn’t know. You dishonestly told one of his friends you had had ‘a couple of drinks’.
‘He stayed with Lisa. He checked her pulse and followed the direction of the emergency operator. He stayed with her and did everything he possibly could to help her. You did nothing to help her.’
Andrew Scott, mitigating, said Dean has no previous convictions and is highly thought of as a husband, father, colleague, and friend. He said Dean immediately accepted he was to blame for the tragic incident, and told a probation officer: ‘There is no one to blame but me.’
He said testimonials handed to the judge spoke of Dean in a different light and ‘separated the man from the deed’. Mr Scott said: ‘He readily accepts the punishment he will receive.’
Ms Birtwistle’s parents, Elaine and Jim Birtwistle, read moving victim impact statements to the court, telling of the agony they have endured as a result of the death of their beloved daughter.
Ms Birtwistle’s parents, Elaine and Jim told Preston Crown Court of their agony and the impact her death would have on her two children
They spoke of the impact on Lisa’s children who will now face a future without their mother.
Judge Unsworth said: ‘You knew you were driving excessively, and you knew it was you, and you alone, that caused Lisa’s death by dangerous driving.’
He sentenced Dean to nine years and four months, with nine months to run concurrently for driving without insurance.
He also banned him from driving for 14 years and five months and ordered him to sit an extended retest if he wants to get behind the wheel again.