'Total disregard for the law': Cardiff crash survivor jailed for dangerous diving on same night of fatal collision

15 September 2023, 19:28

Shane Loughlin
Shane Loughlin. Picture: Social media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A man who filmed himself driving at speeds of up to 90mph while inhaling 'laughing gas' hours before a crash has been jailed.

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Shane Andrew Loughlin, 32, of Rumney, Cardiff, was sent to prison for 17 months after admitting to driving a Volkswagen Tiguan dangerously on the M4, as well as driving the vehicle while disqualified.

The offences, relating to Loughlin driving at around 10pm on March 3, were not connected to a collision involving the same vehicle which happened near the St Mellons area of Cardiff hours later.

The vehicle, which was carrying five people, left the A48(M) in the St Mellons area, and veered into trees. Eve Smith and Darcy Ross, both 21, and Rafel Jeanne, 24, died in the crash.

Loughlin was a rear seat passenger at the time of that crash.

Sophie Russon, 20, and Mr Loughlin were found alive after 46 hours, having spent two days in the car seriously injured next to their friends’ bodies.

Shane Loughlin
Shane Loughlin. Picture: social media

Video footage played to Cardiff Crown Court on Friday afternoon showed Loughlin inhaling from balloons as he drove the Tiguan at speeds of up to 90mph along the M4, with the car crossing the lines of the road.

The court heard Loughlin, who has three young children, at times did not have either hand on the wheel as he inhaled nitrous oxide from the balloon.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, the Recorder of Cardiff, told him it was "luck, not judgment" that he had not injured or killed anyone that night.

She said: "This was a deliberate decision to drive dangerously. You ignored the rules of the road and disregarded the risks to others.

"It was prolonged driving and prolonged use of the mobile phone to record what you were doing. You had passengers in the vehicle.

She continued: "You were filming, it would appear, to be able to share that video with others.

"That night, you showed a total disregard for the law. You know full well the consequences that can arise from a road traffic collision.

"It was luck, not judgment, that meant you didn't seriously injure or kill anyone else or yourself."

Read More: 'Sorry to everyone': Cardiff crash survivor says he only just heard his friends died in emotional first message

Read More: Group trapped in Cardiff car crash that killed three 'had been drinking and inhaling laughing gas'

Mr Loughlin previously said on Facebook in a statement released via a friend: "Only just found out what happened just want to say sorry to everyone and Thank you everyone who helped with the search party and thank you for everyone wishing me well I’ll be back soon love you all.

"Rip Rafel, Eve, and Darcy. Can’t believe it gutted is an understatement heart goes out to all families and friends of the people that has passed. Long way to recovery mentally and physically but we’ll get there."

Darcy Ross was last seen at the Newport nightclub.
Darcy Ross was last seen at the Newport nightclub. Picture: Social media
Rafel Jeanne
Rafel Jeanne. Picture: Social media
Eve Smith
Eve Smith. Picture: Social media

In one video, lasting 23 seconds, Loughlin filmed himself driving the car as he inhaled from a balloon. The car dashboard showed the speed as 80mph, with the fuel light and airbag light illuminated.

The judge said Loughlin had a "truly appalling" record of criminal convictions, including driving offences, and was the subject of a driving ban at the time of the incident.

She disqualified him from driving for two years and eight months. He will have to pass an extended driving test before regaining his licence.