Aggressive driver jailed over crash that killed two schoolboys
A driver who "diced with death on a daily basis" has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for causing the deaths of two teenage boys and leaving two others with life-changing injuries.
Thomas McMeekin caused the deaths of 14-year-olds George Wharton and Rhys Baker when he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree in Morley, West Yorkshire, in March last year.
McMeekin, who also suffered serious injuries in the crash and is confined to a wheelchair, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court for causing death by dangerous driving.
The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, said witnesses who had seen McMeekin on the roads that day described his driving as "aggressive", "that of an idiot" and "an accident waiting to happen".
He told the court that the 23-year-old enjoyed drawing attention to the way he drove and had been criticised in the past by passengers and his own mother, who had threatened to take away his car.
Judge Collier told McMeekin: "On the 7 March 2015, by your dangerous driving, you took the lives of two children, seriously injured two others and caused serious injuries to yourself."
The judge said the defendant would take teenagers out in his car in exchange for petrol money and, on the day of the crash, picked up the four boys with the intention of taking them to buy fast food at Birstall Retail Park.
He said: "They were all passengers in the car you were driving. They were young and, it would appear, they were drawn by the excitement of riding round (with you) but they were too young to appreciate the risks you ran when you diced with death on a daily basis."
Judge Collier said a number of statements described McMeekin speeding regularly, with one of the teenagers injured in the crash telling police: "Whenever Tom drives, he speeds and doesn't follow road rules. He wants to prove his cars are fast."
The judge said the defendant would perform wheel spins and told him: "You enjoyed drawing attention to the way you were driving by sounding your horn as you careered down the road."
On the day of the crash, on the A62 Gelderd Road, witnesses said McMeekin overtook cars on cross-hatched areas and had a number of near misses.
One driver said they could see the defendant talking to his passengers and not looking at the road, turning the steering wheel sharply at the last moment to avoid a collision.
Judge Collier said: "You over-corrected while travelling at over 60mph and lost control of your car."
The judge described how the near offside of the car collided with a tree, throwing McMeekin, who was not wearing a seatbelt, from the car.
One of the injured boys, who was 14, was rendered tetraplegic as a result of his injuries while the other, a 15-year-old, suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries.
McMeekin, of Bruntcliffe Road, Morley, was paralysed from the waist down.
Judge Collier said he will have 24-hour care by a team of eight people in prison.
He told the court the defendant had been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder when he was younger, which meant he had little idea of danger and often indulged in reckless behaviour as far as his own safety was concerned.
He sentenced McMeekin to seven-and-a-half years in prison for two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and three years, to be served concurrently, for two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
McMeekin pleaded guilty to all counts at an earlier hearing.