Mum 'smoked cannabis' before fatal motorway crash

Anastasia James (right holding a folder)
Image caption Anastasia James (right) denies two charges of causing death by careless driving when unfit through drugs

A mother killed her daughter and another teenage passenger after crashing off a motorway at 70mph while under the influence of cannabis, a court has heard.

Anastasia James, 37, smoked the drug before the crash in January 2014, Leicester Crown Court was told.

Daughter Destiny James-Keeling, 14, and Megan Marchant, 18, died when Mrs James's vehicle came off the M1 in Leicestershire and smashed into a tree.

Mrs James denies all charges.

'Tragic case'

A jury heard Mrs James had been at a child's birthday party in Islington in north London when she took the "unforgivable" decision to smoke cannabis either before she set off, or during the journey back to her home in Leicester.

Prosecutor Michael Evans QC said Mrs James's Vauxhall Astra convertible veered into the central reservation near Shawell, then travelled across three lanes of the M1 before plunging down a verge, becoming airborne and hitting a tree at 50mph.

"We know that cannabis can and will affect a person's driving abilities," Mr Evans said.

"She did not want this to happen...but she had the care of children and to make the choice that she did is simply unforgivable."

Image caption Megan Marchant (left) and daughter Destiny James-Keeling (right) died in the crash

The defendant gave a negative breath test in hospital, but Mr Evans said a blood test conducted about six hours after the crash resulted in findings "consistent with cannabis use within the previous six to eight hours".

Mrs James, of Thornton Close, Braunstone, is accused of two counts of causing death by careless driving when unfit through drugs.

The trial continues.

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