Tearful mum of baby killed by drunk-driver at 141mph says 17-year jail term will ‘never make up for what we’ve lost’

9 July 2024, 14:18 | Updated: 9 July 2024, 15:35

Zackary Blades (L) was thrown out of his car seat and into the opposite carriageway of the A1 motorway
Zackary Blades (L) was thrown out of his car seat and into the opposite carriageway of the A1 motorway. Picture: Durham Police/Handout
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A drunk-driver who hit speeds of 141mph moments before crashing into another car, killing an eight-month-old baby and his aunt, has been jailed for 17 years.

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Darryl Anderson, 38, was drunk when he drove back from Newcastle Airport after cutting his holiday short due to a row with his wife.

Anderson took pictures of his speedometer as he hit speeds of 141mph moments before he killed eight-month-old son Zackary Blades and his aunt in a collision.

Zackary's mum, Sharlona Warner, tearfully described the frantic search for her son who was thrown out of his car seat and into the opposite carriageway of the A1 motorway in Durham in the early hours of May 31.

Recounting the horror of trying to find her baby after the crash, Ms Warner said: "I ran to the left rear side of the car where Zackary would have been, but there was no back of the car, it was crushed.

"I could not see my baby, I was standing on wreckage, picking up smashed bits of the car and throwing them, trying to find him but he was not there. I was screaming his name and I called 999.

"I saw the other driver and I ran to him and said ''Help, I cannot find my baby. I was screaming Zack, Zack.'"

"He did not help, he never helped. I began running up to the traffic waving my arms and screaming at cars to help me."

Zackary Blades was eight months old when he was killed
Zackary Blades was eight months old when he was killed. Picture: Handout
Zackary Blades' mum speaks outside of court
Zackary Blades' mum speaks outside of court. Picture: Alamy
Anderson hit speeds of 141mph when he crashed into the car, killing baby Zackary and his aunt
Anderson hit speeds of 141mph when he crashed into the car, killing baby Zackary and his aunt. Picture: Durham Police

Ms Warner's sister Karlene was also thrown from the backseat into the front airbags. Both she and her nephew were killed instantly, Durham Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Anderson, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at a court hearing last week.

Judge Joanne Kidd jailed him for more than 18 years and banned him from driving for a further 21-and-a-half years when he is released.

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Around 50 friends and family members of the two victims were in court for the sentencing.

Judge Kidd told Anderson he had been playing "Russian roulette" with the lives of other drivers that night and a fatal crash was inevitable.

“We were never going to be happy with the sentence today because it was never going to make up for what we’ve lost, but it’s the best it could've been,” Ms Warner said outside of Durham Crown Court.

“The one thing I was really hoping for was a lifetime driving ban, which he didn't get. But now I’m going to fight, because he should never get in a car again and drive.”

Zackary Blades' aunt Karlene was also killed in the crash
Zackary Blades' aunt Karlene was also killed in the crash. Picture: Handout
Darryl Anderson was driving back from Newcastle Airport after cutting his holiday short due to a row with his wife
Darryl Anderson was driving back from Newcastle Airport after cutting his holiday short due to a row with his wife. Picture: Durham Police

Anderson was breathalysed at the scene and police recorded a 95mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath when the legal limit is 35mg.

Police found an empty vodka bottle in the wreckage of his car.

He had been using WhatsApp while he drove and took a photograph on his phone in which Ms Warner's Peugeot could be seen, showing the speedometer at 141mph, moments before the crash.

Analysis of the Audi's computer showed he had the accelerator fully depressed, did not brake before impact, and that a collision warning light was illuminated on the dashboard.

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