Driver sentenced for death of friends in Wigan

A man whose careless driving caused the death of two friends in Wigan has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Christopher Houghton, 26, was driving at about 39mph, undertaking a car, when his Ford Escort struck Leslie Hutton, 62, and Terence Charlton, 66.

They had been walking across a 30mph dual carriageway on 13 February.

Houghton, of Sidmouth Grove, Wigan, admitted causing death by careless driving. He was sentenced to 24 weeks, suspended for two years.

On hearing the sentence, a relative of one of the dead men shouted out at the judge.

Andrew Downie, prosecuting, had earlier told the court that the victims were walking home from the pub at about 18:20 GMT when they were killed crossing Warrington Road.

Houghton was driving home, in heavy rain and as darkness fell, with his two young children in the back of the car.

'Loud bang'

Reading from a police statement, the barrister said Houghton's car was driving in the near-side lane at a "likely speed" of 39mph when he undertook another car.

"During the manoeuvre his view of the off-side road ahead is likely to have been disrupted," Mr Downie said.

The driver of the other vehicle said in her statement that Houghton was driving "too fast for the weather conditions", the barrister added.

"The next thing she heard was a loud bang and it was obvious that the red car had hit both pedestrians," Mr Downie said.

Richard Clews, mitigating, said Houghton's life would be "blighted".

Judge David Swift, sentencing, said: "You drove at a speed which was unsafe for the weather conditions which prevailed.

"Your lack of reasonable care resulted in the deaths of two men."

He also ordered Houghton to carry out 250 hours of community service and banned him from driving for three years.

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