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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Cumbria death crash widow: My life ended when jailed drug driver killed husband

The widow of a west Cumbrian grandad killed by a drugged up driver said she felt her life ended on the day he died.

James McKenzie photo
James McKenzie

Sixty-one-year-old James McKenzie died after Lee Thomas Walley, 35, crashed into his car head on. Walley had heroin and diazepam in his system, Carlisle Crown Court heard yesterday. He was jailed for nearly seven years.

Mr McKenzie’s widow Olive said in a victim impact statement that she didn’t want to “face the days without him”.

“He was my world and I was his,” she said. “My life now is only tears and sorrow. I lost everything when I lost him. I have wished I could just go to bed and not wake up.”

His daughter Sharron Caddy said his death, and the way he died, had “ripped my mother’s heart right out”. “We have all been robbed of a very good dad and grandad,” she said.

Walley wept in the dock as full details emerged of the crash. Walley, who had two previous convictions for dangerous driving and only got his licence back in October 2011 after having it revoked by the DVLA because of his use of illegal drugs, dabbed his eyes throughout the 45-minute hearing. He had previously pleaded guilty to causing Mr McKenzie’s death by dangerous driving.

Mr McKenzie, who had manned the turnstiles at Workington Town’s Derwent Park ground for more than 40 years, died after a two-car crash on Honister Drive, Workington, on the afternoon of March 7.

He was driving his blue Ford Focus when Walley lost control of his silver VW Golf from the other direction and crashed into him.

Mr McKenzie, of Furness Road, Moorclose, had to be cut out of his car before being taken to the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, where he died from multiple injuries.

Walley, of Beverley Close, Workington, also had to be cut free by firefighters after his car bounced off Mr McKenzie’s and crashed into a wall. He was badly hurt in the accident and hobbled into court leaning heavily on a stick.

Prosecutor Dick Binstead told the court Walley was driving so fast he lost control on a bend after overtaking a slower car, crossed into the opposite side of the road and crashed head on into Mr McKenzie’s.

The impact was so great that Mr McKenzie’s car was pushed at least 12 metres backwards. There was nothing Mr McKenzie could have done to avoid the collision, Mr Binstead said.

Rebecca Maguire, who was driving the car Walley overtook before the crash, said his car had come “out of the blue” from behind at up to 60mph. She described his overtaking manoeuvre as “supremely dangerous”.

Mr Binstead said a blood test taken later showed Walley would have been under the influence of both heroin and diazepam.

In mitigation, defence barrister Greg Hoare said Walley denied taking drugs on the day of the accident.

But he said: “He is all too well aware of the damage he has caused. The expressions of remorse he has made are genuine. He has an overwhelming sense of guilt.”

Walley was sent to prison for six years and eight months and banned from driving for eight years.

Mr McKenzie, who was known to his friends as Jimmy, Chizza and Snuffbox, was a fan of Workington Town and Wigan RL.

The Derwent Park club held a minute’s silence in his honour at its first match – against Oldham – after his death. At his funeral a letter was read from the manager of another club he supported – Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United.

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