Dangerous driver who killed friend in head-on collision is jailed
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A dangerous driver was over the limit for prescription drugs when he killed his friend in a head-on collision.
Mark Leadbeatter, 60, of The Spinney, Pulborough, was driving a Nissan Almera when he crossed into the opposite carriageway and crashed into an Audi SQ5.
The incident occurred in Forest Road, Horsham, around 11.40am on 12 September, 2019.
His rear seat passenger, Roger Lees, 54, from Coldwaltham, was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
Leadbeatter himself sustained multiple serious injuries, while the occupants of the Audi suffered minor injuries.
Just five minutes earlier, Leadbeatter was at fault for another collision in nearby Redkiln Way. He crashed into a Ford Transit van after failing to give way at the roundabout – causing serious injuries to the driver – but failed to stop and continued on his journey.
Further to this, numerous witnesses reported his vehicle being driven in an extremely erratic manner between Pulborough and Horsham earlier that day.
A blood sample was taken from Leadbeatter while he was in hospital, which revealed he had 658mcg of diazepam per litre of blood in his system. The legal limit is 550mcg.
Following his release from hospital, he was arrested and charged with multiple offences, all of which he denied.
The case went to trial and he was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Monday 11 April. The following day (12 April), he was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving; two years for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and one year for driving whilst uninsured, to run concurrently (nine years total).
He was also disqualified from driving for five years and must take an extended retest should he wish to drive again.
Detective Sergeant Kieran McDonald, of the Serious Collision Investigations Unit, said: “Leadbeatter caused an immense amount of harm and suffering not only to his victims, but also to their loved ones. In particular, the family of Roger Lees had welcomed Leadbeatter into their lives and their home, only to be betrayed by his deceit.
“Throughout the trial, he denied being responsible for his actions, expressed no remorse, and even tried to pin the blame on Roger. But evidence that was meticulously gathered by our dedicated police teams proved he was the driver responsible for the series of catastrophic events that day.
“This case should serve as a reminder to motorists of the stark consequences of dangerous driving and drug-driving. There is absolutely no place for this on our roads, and we will continue to provide education and enforcement in our bid to reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads every year.”
If you witness dangerous or antisocial driving or riding, you can report it online via Operation Crackdown.