Devon

Drink-drive warning after Totnes toddler death

Reuben Williams Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Reuben Williams had been on his way to visit grandparents when he was killed in the crash

A coroner has warned of the dangers of drink-driving after a man who was over the limit and driving at about 79mph killed a toddler.

Reuben Williams, three, was in the back seat of his mother's car when builder Andrew Vass's car landed on the roof.

It had hit the road bank and launched into the air near Totnes, Devon, an inquest in Plymouth heard.

When he was arrested, Vass, 31, from Wales, told a police officer: "I can't believe I've killed a kid."

South Devon Coroner Ian Arrow said the death "serves as a warning of the dangers of driving while intoxicated and at excessive speed".

The inquest heard that Vass had 98 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrams.

Vass had been seen drinking beer in a cafe on the same day as the crash, 12 December 2017, the inquest was told.

A colleague had also bought a bottle of vodka in a local shop before they set off from Modbury, where they worked, to Totnes.

Image caption A police examination of the scene estimated Vass's speed as 79mph

Vass was driving along the A379 about two miles west of Totnes when he overtook a lorry, lost control and crashed into the oncoming Volvo driven by Reuben's mother Francesca Gould.

A police examination of the scene estimated his speed as 79mph.

Pathologist Dr Russell Delaney told the inquest that Reuben would have been made "instantly unconscious" when Vass's Honda Civic landed on the Volvo's roof.

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Ms Gould, who had been taking her son to see his grandparents, received injuries to her left arm and Vass and his colleague in the car received minor injuries.

The inquest heard that two rear tyres on the Civic were partly bald.

Vas was jailed for five years and four months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

He had been on licence from prison while serving a sentence for manslaughter when he attacked and killed a cyclist in Pontypool in 2013 with two accomplices.

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