'Blind drunk' driver downed TEN pints before killing taxi driver in fatal crash

·3-min read
'Blind drunk' driver downed TEN pints before killing taxi driver in fatal crash <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
'Blind drunk' driver downed TEN pints before killing taxi driver in fatal crash (Image: Newsquest)

A ‘blind drunk’ driver whose car burst into flames when he killed a taxi driver in a high-speed crash has been locked up.

James Hobson had downed up to ten pints of lager and eight shots of tequila before stumbling out of the pub and climbing behind the wheel of his hired Mercedes C-Class when he eventually remembered where he had parked it.

The 33-year-old transport company owner reached speeds in excess of 100mph as he attempted to lose a pursuing police vehicle by undertaking cars and driving through red lights after leaving the Highfield pub.

Read more: Whorlton Hall: Charge against nurse dropped as jurors record not guilty verdict

Teesside Crown Court heard how Hobson was driving on the wrong side of the road when he smashed into a taxi driven by Malik Ameer Abbas.

The Northern Echo: Malik Ameer Abbas
The Northern Echo: Malik Ameer Abbas

Malik Ameer Abbas

The 27-year-old from Middlesbrough died after a late-night crash on the A172 at Dixons Bank, on March 29 last year.

Police spotted the defendant travelling at around 70mph driving past James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough before setting off in pursuit.

The court heard how Hobson had racked up a bar bill of £116 before driving at dangerously high speed whilst on a Facetime call to his partner.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said Hobson suffered multiple fractures as a result of the crash and was still almost twice over the alcohol limit despite having blood transfusions and medical treatment for several hours.

He said: “The officer noticed there was a mobile phone in the footwell which was engaged in an ongoing Facetime call with a woman thought to be his then partner.

“The Mercedes caught fire, obstructing access to Mr Abbas. Officers and members of the public, much to their credit, began fighting the flames with a fire extinguisher and buckets of water.”

Mr Dry said Mr Abbas suffered catastrophic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hobson had two previous convictions for driving with excess alcohol from 2007 and 2010.

The crash happened at 11.40pm and Dixons Bank was closed, between Stainton Way and Gunnergate Lane, for almost nine hours for accident investigation work to be carried out.

Hobson, of Durham Street, Hartlepool, suffered significant injuries and remained in a coma for several weeks. He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

The Northern Echo: James Hobson
The Northern Echo: James Hobson

James Hobson (Image: Cleveland Police)

Richard Herrmann, mitigating, said his client suffered multiple injuries in the crash but accepted full responsibility for the death of Mr Abbas.

He said: “He spends his days wishing he could swap places with Mr Abbas that he had died and Mr Abbas had survived.”

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Paul Watson KC told Hobson his driving was ‘some of the worst’ he had seen in recent years.

“You are a 33-year-old with two convictions for driving with excess alcohol, as a result of one of those incidents, you wrapped a car around a lamppost – it may have been a long time ago but you didn’t learn your lesson,” he said.

“The bar bill speaks for itself at almost £120, when you left you were literally almost blind drunk. You couldn’t even find your car at first.”

Read next:

​​Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here

Sentencing Hobson to seven years and four months in prison, the judge added: “The police decided to follow you and there began a protracted and horrific chase. It was some of the worst driving I have seen in cases like this in recent years. It was protracted and at colossal speeds.”

Hobson was banned from driving a total of 11 years and eight months for his ‘crass and reckless’ driving.

The judge added: “When you were overtaking a vehicle on the wrong side of the road, he had the tragic misfortune to be coming the other way.”