Manchester

'Grotesque' killer driver jailed for Trafford Park crash

Scott Watkins Image copyright GMP
Image caption Watkins had been showing off "drifting" stunts when he lost control of the BMW

A speeding driver who killed a teenage girl in an "act of grotesque selfishness" at a "car cruise" has been jailed for nine years and nine months.

Scott Watkins, 25, ploughed into onlookers, killing Sophie Smith, 19, when he lost control of a BMW.

Manchester Minshull Street Court heard he was showing off "drifting" stunts at the unregulated gathering on 31 May.

Watkins, of Worsley Road North, Salford earlier admitted offences including causing death by dangerous driving.

Four other spectators suffered "life-changing injuries" in the crash with two currently in wheelchairs, including Miss Smith's boyfriend, Jordan Chidgey, 24.

'Dreadful carnage'

The BMW 3 Series, which was not his own, was among more than 60 high-performance and modified vehicles said to have taken part on the night.

The regular Thursday night events were staged on a 500m stretch of dual carriageway on Europa Way, at Trafford Park, Greater Manchester.

Witnesses described cars being driven erratically with many executing a spin around a roundabout by using excessive engine power.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sophie Smith died and her boyfriend Jordan Chidgey was left in a wheelchair

Judge John Potter told Watkins: "It was into this chaos that you decided to drive dangerously a high performance car you had never been in before - an act of grotesque selfishness."

Watkins accelerated at speed as he approached the roundabout but, as he attempted to "drift", lost control of the car which almost immediately corrected its steering.

Judge Potter told the defendant: "Having no prior knowledge of that vehicle it is likely you over-compensated thus causing it to veer violently to the left. The vehicle then veers into a large group of spectators... causing the most dreadful carnage.

"After the collision your behaviour showed not a shred of concern at what you had just done. You failed to stop and then sped off with a view to avoid capture."

Watkins, who passed his test in October 2016, abandoned the car in Swinton.

He had pleaded guilty at a hearing in July to causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving, causing death while driving uninsured and failing to report and stop at a collision.

Michael Brady, defending, said his client had "made a momentously, devastating and catastrophic decision".

Watkins was also disqualified from driving for 14 years and 10 months.

Miss Smith's mother, Sue, said: "When the accused is released from custody, his family will have the privilege of welcoming him home.

"Although Sophie will always be in our hearts we shall never have the privilege of welcoming her back home."

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