Civil claim proceeds following a driver who killed his friend being sent to jail
On 11th of February 2016, 29-year-old married father of one Daniel Roche was killed when a car in which he was a passenger hit a tree near Warfield, Berkshire at around 9pm the way to driver's house in Bray, Maidenhead.
The driver of the car, Tony Reed, who was over the alcohol limit and was presumed to be speeding, lost control of the vehicle and hit the tree. Instead of phoning for an ambulance immediately, there was a lengthy delay, before a passer-by called an ambulance to take Mr Roche to Royal Berkshire Hospital.
Mr Roche died on the way to the hospital from extensive injuries in the early hours of February 12th. When later questioned by police, Reed refused to give a blood sample.
Thames Valley Police and the CPS charged Reed with causing death by careless driving and failing to provide, but for just over 17 months, Mr Reed denied driving the car, instead laying the blame on a fabricated story of someone else driving. The car, a Subaru Impreza WRX, belonged to Reed's father.
Police proved that DNA within the Subaru, on the airbag and elsewhere, was that of Mr Reed and that there could only be one driver of the car that night.
Last week, Reed changed his plea to guilty and was today sentenced at Reading Crown Court to five years eight months in prison. His sentence was reduced due to his guilty plea. Other motoring convictions were revealed in court, including two previous convictions for speeding.
Mr Roche worked for his father’s Office Cleaning Company and lived in Berkshire with his wife Lauren and their son Sonny, who was just three years old at the time of his father’s death.
In a witness impact statement prepared for the court, 31-year-old widow Lauren Roche said that she is still struggling to come to terms with the reality that her husband has gone and that her four-year-old son will never see his father again.
Mrs Roche said she was truly disgusted by Reed's conduct on the night of the accident and ever since. "I play over and over in my mind what might have happened if an ambulance had got to Daniel sooner.
Maybe the hospital could have saved him. Instead, I have to deal with being a lone parent and that Sonny will never get to see his beloved father again. It is like living a nightmare that never ends.
"Reed's lies made the devastation even worse – dragging out the investigation for so long, demanding a second inquest that simply prolonged the agony of having to visit Daniel's broken body in hospital before we could lay him to rest."
Keith Barrett, the lawyer for the Roche family, who is pursuing a civil claim against Reed, said that the agony the family has gone through because of Mr Reed's lies was "indescribable".
"Because of Reed's lies, the family had to live through 17-months of criminal investigation. The insurers of the car driven by Reed continued to deny liability meaning Mrs Roche and her son were refused the financial help they sorely needed. This has added to the immense stress and anxiety of this case, as Mr Reed continued to deny the truth.
"Once irrefutable DNA evidence was put forward by the police, Mr Reed had to admit the truth. I only hope that this sentence brings some small comfort to a family torn apart by grief."
Mr Roche's family said they were deeply grateful to Thames Valley Police and the CPS for persevering with the case and bringing Reed to justice.