Death crash driver's sentence cut

A drink-driver who caused a road crash which claimed the lives of five people, including three teenage girls from Lowestoft, won a two-year reduction in his jail sentence today.

A drink-driver who caused a road crash which claimed the lives of five people, including three teenage girls from Lowestoft, won a two-year reduction in his jail sentence today.

Ben Morphey, 23, of High Street, Yoxford, Suffolk, was originally sentenced to eight-and-a-half years at Ipswich Crown Court in June.

But today, three judges in the Court of Appeal in London allowed a sentence challenge brought by Morphey and cut his jail term to six-and-a-half years.

Morphey, who lost his Army career following the crash, admitted five charges of causing death by careless driving while unfit due to drink.

Claire Stoddart, 18, her sister Jennifer, 15, and their friend Carla Took, 18, plus Simon Bonner, 40, and Kim Abbott, 41, died after two cars crashed head-on at Blythburgh, Suffolk, in July last year.

The three teenage girls, who lived in Lowestoft, were on their way home from a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Ipswich when they died.

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Mr Bonner and Ms Abbott, who were passengers in the vehicle driven by Morphey, lived in the Yoxford area.

Morphey, an Army aircraft technician based at Wattisham, Suffolk, had driven a friend's car at the end of a night out after it was decided he was the least affected by alcohol.

His sentence appeal was allowed today by Lord Justice Laws, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones and Sir Michael Astill.

Morphey was present in the dock of the courtroom for the hearing.

Sir Michael, announcing the court's decision, said the facts of the case were "overwhelmingly tragic".

He said: "We acknowledge the most tragic consequences of the appellant's careless driving.

"We understand the deep grief that this appellant's actions have caused and the anguish to so many that have lost their loved ones.''

However, the cause of the tragedy was "not a deliberate act of bad driving'', but the "total irresponsibility'' of driving above the alcohol limit.

Sir Michael said the court considered that Morphey's behaviour was "properly met by a sentence of six-and-a-half years in total''.

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