South East Wales

'Love rival' Cardiff pair jailed for crash death

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Media captionSophie Taylor's father Rod called Wheeler and Pesticcio "vile scum"

A woman and her ex-boyfriend who killed a "love rival" after a car chase led to a crash have been jailed.

Sophie Taylor, 22, died when her BMW hit a block of flats in Adamsdown, Cardiff, in August 2016.

Melissa Pesticcio, 24, of Llanrumney, was convicted of death by dangerous driving and jailed for six-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown Court.

Michael Wheeler, 23, of Tremorfa, who admitted the same charge, was given a seven-and-a-half year sentence.

Pesticcio was also convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving to Joshua Deguara, a passenger in Miss Taylor's car.

Judge Thomas Crowther QC said "the shattering of two families was completely avoidable" and was "caused by you two being consumed by a self righteous and jealous rage, chasing her down to frighten her and teach her a lesson".

In her statement to the court, Miss Taylor's mother, Jackie, said her daughter's death left "her ripped apart and unable to cope" and her life had been "completely destroyed".

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Joshua Deguara has not been able to work since the crash

Mr Deguara suffered multiple injuries in the crash, including a brain bleed, shattered pelvis, four broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken leg that left him with no feeling in his lower leg.

He is now going to have his left leg amputated below the knee and said outside court: "I hope I can get on with my life from there."

Wheeler, who had been in a relationship with both women, also admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and intimidation.

The trial heard there was "hostility" between Pesticcio and Miss Taylor after Wheeler left her and started seeing the woman they would later go on to kill.

Miss Taylor took out a loan for £6,500 to buy an off-road motorbike for Wheeler just weeks into their relationship but they broke up soon after.

Image copyright South Wales Police

When Miss Taylor and Mr Deguara went to Wheeler's parents' house to get her money back, an argument led to the car chase.

Wheeler and Pesticcio decided to chase Miss Taylor to teach her a lesson for the humiliation caused by her visit to the family home, the court heard.

"This resembled nothing more than a pack chasing its prey" said Judge Crowther.

Wheeler rammed his Vauxhall Corsa into Miss Taylor's car after what the court heard was a "Fast and Furious style chase" that reached 56mph (90km/h) on narrow back streets.

This caused her vehicle to spin into the building on Meteor Street.

While Wheeler caused the crash, the court heard Pesticcio played "a main role in the protracted pursuit".

Iwan Jenkins, head of the complex casework unit at CPS Wales, said Wheeler and Pesticcio "used their cars to frighten and harass Sophie and Joshua with tragic consequences".

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Media captionThe court heard the pair engaged in "a relentless pursuit" of Miss Taylor

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