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Drunk driver jailed for 8 years

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Wilfred Museka pleaded guilty at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court to causing death by dangerous driving, along with also admitting offences of fraud by false representation, driving without insurance and driving other than in accordance with a driving licence.

The Court was told that Mr Museka, a Zimbabwean National, had been to a family party in Manchester.  He drank an excessive amount of alcohol to the extent that he could not recall how or why he had later driven to the border of West Yorkshire, joining the M62 driving the wrong way along the exit slip road continuing the wrong way along the eastbound carriageway for approximately half a mile before crashing into another vehicle in which Rebecca Caine was travelling.  Ms Caine, 20, from Leeds, and described as an 'aspiring model' died from multiple injuries sustained in the head-on collision.  Ms Caine was a back seat passenger in the vehicle with which Mr Museka collided and three other people in the same vehicle were also injured. 

Following his arrest, Mr Museka was found to be more than twice over the legal limit for driving.  The Court was told that he had 11 previous convictions for driving offences including driving with excess alcohol in his blood and he had never held a full driving licence.  The Court was told that Mr Museka had come to the UK in 2000 and gained political asylum.

In sentencing Mr Museka, Judge Adrian Smith said "this can properly be described as a flagrant disregard of the basic rules of motoring caused by a self-inflicted inability to exercise any judgement by the consumption of large amounts of alcohol". 

The offence of causing death by dangerous driving has a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment with a requirement for a minimum disqualification of two years with a compulsory extended re-test. 

There are three levels of seriousness:

Level 1 - the most serious offences involving driving that involves a deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road such offences often being characterised by things such as consumption of substantial amounts of alcohol or drugs or a prolonged persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving. 

Level 2 - driving that creates a substantial risk of danger.  This is often applied to situations where there is use of greatly excessive speed, racing or 'competing' against other drivers.  Also gross avoidable distractions such as reading or composing a text message whilst driving and can also extend to failing to take prescribed medications resulting in an impairment of a persons ability to drive.

Level 3 - is driving that created a significant risk of danger and can be proved by driving above the speed limit or at a speed that is inappropriate for the conditions, driving whilst knowingly deprived of adequate sleep or rest, driving a vehicle that has a dangerous defect that is known to the driver or a vehicle that is poorly maintained.

In the case of Mr Museka, he appears to have been deemed to have committed a 'level 1 offence' for which the sentencing guidelines indicate a starting point of 8 years custody with a sentencing range of 7-14 years custody.

The above is not legal advice, it is intended to provide information of general interest in current legal issues.