South East Wales

Jail for cocaine driver who killed Newport grandmother

Christine Rowe with her husband Brian Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption Christine Rowe was a full-time carer for her husband Brian

A father-of-two has been jailed for eight years and eight months for killing a grandmother while sniffing cocaine at the wheel of his van.

Ryan Reardon, 34, hit seven other vehicles in his van in Newport before crashing into 70-year-old Christine Rowe's car head-on, killing her and seriously injuring her husband Brian.

Cardiff Crown Court heard he was speeding on the wrong side of the road.

Reardon, from Blackwood in Caerphilly, ran off but police caught him that day.

He was more than six times over the legal drug-drive limit when he jumped red lights and barged through other cars at about 19:00 BST on 5 June near Beechwood Park in bad weather conditions, the court heard.

Reardon, a managing director of an air conditioning company, was driving at 59mph in a 30mph zone.

Prosecutor James Wilson said: "It was the culmination of prolonged, persistent driving by the defendant characterised by aggression and disregard for other road users.

Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption Ryan Reardon was taking drugs at the wheel, the court was told

"His driving was aggravated further by consumption of cocaine, 6.5 times over the prescribed limit. He was consuming the drugs while driving."

Reardon admitted causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to stop and possession of class A drugs.

Witnesses reported seeing Reardon tailgating and barging into other cars, and he was confronted by other drivers but continued.

One witness said: "I have never seen any driving as bad or dangerous in my life. He was driving like a man possessed."

Mr Rowe, 80, had to be cut out of the crushed car and spent four weeks in hospital with multiple fractures to his ribs.

He also now suffers from short term memory loss.

His wife had been his full time carer.

Reardon was disqualified from driving for 14 years and the court heard that he had previous convictions for dangerous driving.

Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption Christine Rowe cared full-time for her husband Brian

Mrs Rowe's daughter-in-law Joanne Tracey said: "Christine loved all her children and grandchildren with a ferocity that is hard to explain.

"When we were in the hospital family room, I have never seen such pain, confusion, sadness and shock in one room.

"Christine cared full-time for her husband Brian, who has asked several times where she is despite being told she is dead."

Jailing him, Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees said: "Your driving can only be described as appalling.

"You tailgated, undertook and drove at aggressive speeds causing drivers to take evasive action.

"You left a trail of damage and shocked drivers in your wake.

"No sentence this court passes can restore Mrs Rowe to her family or adequately reflect the loss or grief."

Following sentencing, Janine Davies of the Crown Prosecution Service said: "It is sometimes difficult to decide which charge reflects the manner of driving properly in law, but in this instance it was clear. Reardon had collided with several vehicles immediately before the fatal collision where he had simply tried to push his way between two lines of traffic.

"His consumption of cocaine was a factor in this case and the danger he posed to other road users that day was significant.

"Our sympathies are extended to the Rowe family for their loss," she added.

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