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Man admits Wandsworth prison drone pursuit death

Craig Kearney Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Craig Kearney pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving

A man has admitted killing his girlfriend in a high-speed police chase after a drone was spotted being flown near Wandsworth prison.

Acacia Smith died when Craig Kearney, of Southall, crashed his silver Peugeot in Wandsworth Bridge Road in the early hours of 9 August 2016.

The Old Bailey heard a drone and drugs were found in the car, suggesting Kearney was trying to smuggle them in.

Kearney, 27, was jailed for eight years for causing death by dangerous driving.

The court was told the "extremely high speed" pursuit took place over a mile (1.6km) and had lasted for 69 seconds.

Kearney's car had been travelling up to 91mph (146kph) on the 30mph (48kph) road and was left "totally crumpled".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Police were investigating reports of a drone being flown near Wandsworth Prison

After the crash a drone was found inside the wrecked vehicle and flight logs showed it had taken off near the prison, prosecutor Nathan Rasiah said.

He told the court cannabis wraps, "psychoactive" substances and small mobile phones were also discovered.

The Old Bailey heard Kearney, who was seriously injured in the smash, had 15 previous convictions, including speeding and driving with no insurance.

Cocaine and cannabis were also found in his system at the time.

In court, Ms Smith's grandfather Lester described the 25-year-old nursery worker as a "strong, bubbly, amazing young lady".

"Acacia was supposed to bury me but instead, because of Craig and Craig alone, the saddest day of my life, I buried her," he said.

Image caption The car crashed on Wandsworth Bridge Road which has a 30mph (48kph) speed limit

Mitigating, Alex Jamieson said Kearney wanted to apologise, saying he had "killed the woman he loves".

"This is something he will have to bear for the rest of his life," he said.

Judge Richard Marks QC said the 27 year old had been driving at "grossly excessive speed" and had told a "bare-faced lie" when he originally claimed one of the pursuing police cars caused the crash.

He also disqualified him from driving for six years, with the ban to start upon his release.

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