Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Jail for Drink-Driver Who Killed Best Pal; Idiot Showing off at High Speed before Fatal Crash, Court Told

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Jail for Drink-Driver Who Killed Best Pal; Idiot Showing off at High Speed before Fatal Crash, Court Told

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT gareth.lightfoot@eveninggazette.co.uk

A "DRUNKEN idiot" who killed his best friend in a tragic car crash begins a six-year prison sentence today.

Christopher James Howson's "showing off" behind the wheel of his friend Gordon Quigley's Ford Focus had fatal consequences.

The 29-year-old swerved, undertook and overtook at high speeds, and ignored the pleas of front seat passenger Mr Quigley to slow down.

Instead he drove aggressively to "wind him up", Teesside Crown Court was told yesterday.

Howson lost control, hit a central reservation and then a lamppost on Wolviston Road, Billingham, shortly after midnight on April 15. Talented soldier Lance Corporal Quigley, 26, was unconscious and died from head injuries, including a fractured skull.

Howson was unlicensed, uninsured and had never taken a driving test, said prosecutor Sue Jacobs. He was hysterical at the scene, saying: "I've killed him... Oh my God. What have I done? I'm so sorry. Please help." He told an inspector: "I was driving like an idiot." He was almost double the legal alcohol limit after drinking about seven pints and two cans of lager.

He had been good friends with Mr Quigley and was best man at his wedding in 2006.

After drifting apart, they reunited in a chance meeting on the day of the accident.

Mr Quigley, from Paisley in Scotland, was about to begin a six-month tour of Afghanistan when he visited Teesside from Catterick where he was sta-tioned. He, Howson and another friend relaxed, caught up, watched football and the Grand National and drank in pubs and their homes in the afternoon and evening.

It was decided Howson would drive rather than pay taxi fares, and Mr Quigley threw him the keys to his car, the court heard.

The family of Mr Quigley, a devoted husband and dad, told of the impact of his death in statements given to the court. …

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