Man who drove 'like a bullet' jailed for causing crash on A35 which killed grandfather

JAILED: David Churcher

MUCH MISSED: Stephen Fawcett

CRASH SCENE: On A35 last year

First published in News
Last updated

A MAN who drove "like a bullet" before smashing into a van driven by a grandfather on the A35 near Bridport has been jailed for six and a half years.

David Churcher, aged 32, of Singleton Drive in Bournemouth, caused a collision witnesses likened to "a scene out of Casino Royale" when his out-of-control van ploughed into the vehicle being driven by Stephen Christopher Fawcett on the A35 near Bridport last year.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and also to possessing cannabis on the same date.

Mr Fawcett, 49, of Cleveland, lost his life in the collision, while Churcher sustained serious head trauma.

This morning at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Peter Johnson heard that a number of witnesses had reported seeing the defendant driving his work Ford Transit van dangerously, with one even speaking to police before the crash took place.

The court also heard that empty bottles of whiskey and vodka had been found in Churcher's van along with a small bag of herbal cannabis.

Doctors reported that the defendant may have had 186mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system at the time of the crash - the legal limit is 80mg.

Prosecuting, Heather Shimmen said Churcher's van struck Mr Fawcett's vehicle "almost head on", and a witness described the Transit as being on "two wheels and [being driven at] an incredible speed".

The witness - Ian Elliot, who was also involved in the collision - said he tried to reach both the defendant and Mr Fawcett in the seconds after the crash.

However, he added: "They were cocooned in the metal of their vehicles."

Ms Shimmen told the court that Churcher had been rowing with his long-term partner, who had herself called police moments after the collision.

The prosecutor said: "She was concerned for the defendant having been on the phone to him.

"She said it sounded like he was on speaker phone and while he was talking he suddenly swore and the call ended."

Police investigations revealed the phone cut out at 6.05pm - a minute before the first call was made to the emergency services after the collision.

The court also heard a statement from Mr Fawcett's widow Christine, who said she wants the defendant to "rot in jail".

She added: "I struggle with everyday life since the killing of my best friend and husband, who I loved and still love and miss so very much."

Mitigating, Lesley Smith said Churcher - who suffered "substantial brain injuries himself" - was deeply remorseful.

"He cannot express deeply enough how much sorrow and regret he has," he said.

The defendant, who previously had a clean driving licence and has never appeared before the courts, nodded as the judge told him of the "devastation" his actions had caused.

"You showed a flagrant disregard for the safety of others," he said.

"The facts of this case are shocking."

A statement released after the case by Mr Fawcett's family said: “It is with a heavy heart that today we received some justice seeing Mr David Churcher sentenced to a lengthy prison term, but no matter how long he serves it will not be enough as he has robbed a family of a great man.

“We would also like to thank Dorset Police for all the hard work they put in to bring David Churcher to justice.”

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