A ‘dreadful’ drink driver who ploughed into a car killing a besotted young South Yorkshire couple has been jailed for eight years.
William Wilson pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of Stephen Donnelly, aged 26, and his girlfriend Mandy Gold, 21, after crashing into them as they drove home to Sheffield from a family wedding.
Wilson also pleaded guilty to drink driving after tests revealed he was twice the drink drive limit.
Judge Richard Bray said: “This is a tragic case in which the lives of two young people have been lost. No penalty can compensate for these sad deaths.”
He told Wilson: “This was a dreadful course of dangerous driving. You drove on the wrong side of the carriageway and they had no chance of avoiding instant death. There must be a lengthy sentence here.”
Stephen and Mandy, both well loved members of the Antioch Community Church in Broomhall, were travelling along the A41 in Northamptonshire, when their car was involved in a smash with Wilson’s.
Todd Roberts, a friend of the young couple and a senior pastor at the church, said following the tragedy: “They were a devoted couple, they were besotted with each.”
Motorists told police they had seen Wilson, 33, of Brigg in South Humberside, slowing down and then accelerating, clipping kerbs and driving on the wrong side of the road to negotiate bends.
He was returning home from a traveller’s fair when the collision occurred.
Alexandra Bull, prosecuting, said a couple, who had two young children in the back seat of their car, saw Stephen and Mandy’s Ford car move into the outside lane to overtake when they heard a massive bang.
She said: “The witness saw two people trapped in the car. Wilson, who appeared dazed, said ‘What have I done?’.”
Stephen and Mandy started dating after meeting through the church they both attended.
The pair were went on a missionary trip to Poland together last year and friends said they were ‘young and in love’.
Stephen, a former pure mathematics student at the University of Sheffield, joined the church in 2007 and became part of its staff as a student pastor a year later.
Volunteer Mandy was a student life group leader at the church and also helped out with Sunday school and women’s Bible groups.
Gwyn Lewis, representing Wilson, who is from a traveller family, said: “This is a tragic case for the families whose lives were changed in an instant. They suffered a tragic loss which they have dealt with in a very dignified manner.
“No sentence, no matter what type or length, can lessen the anguish of these families.”
Mr Lewis said Wilson had no recollection of the accident.
“This will remain a jigsaw that doesn’t fit and a mystery he will never, ever understand,” he added.
“He is genuinely remorseful and has written to both bereaved families. He struggles with the consequences of his actions.
“It’s the first thing he thinks of in the morning and the last thing he thinks of at night. He unequivocally accepts responsibilty.”
Wilson, who was convicted of drink driving when he was 17, was banned from driving for 10 years.