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JAILED: Van driver killed rapper Cadet in crash after downing six pints of beer

By David Banner | Staffordshire | Crime | Published:

A "foolish" van driver who killed up-and-coming rapper Cadet following a head-on crash after drinking six pints of beer has been jailed for four years and eight months.

Rapper Blaine Cameron Johnson was known as Cadet

Singer Blaine Johnson was travelling in a taxi on his way to a gig at Keele University before Jordan Birch's Vauxhall smashed into the vehicle at twice the 30mph speed limit in the early hours of February 9 last year.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Birch had been veering onto the wrong side of the A531, also known as Main Road in Wrinehill, Staffordshire, and driving at speeds of 65-69mph after admitting he felt "a little drunk" before getting into his van.

The 23-year-old was tearful in the dock as members of Mr Johnson's family watched on from the public gallery.

Birch, of Woore, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to causing the 28-year-old Grime star's death by dangerous driving and serious injury by dangerous driving to the taxi driver Kashif Usman.

After serving his prison sentence, Birch will also begin a two-year driving ban and must take an extended driving test before having his licence returned.

Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor Paul Spratt said: "Mr Johnson was a much loved brother, son and grandson and he was widely adored as a rising star of the music scene.

"He was plainly very talented as a musician and a singer. He was on the cusp of securing greater commercial success.

"From the outset, Jordan Birch has accepted that he was the driver and that he had consumed alcohol prior to driving."

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Addressing how much alcohol Birch had drunk, Mr Spratt continued: "Mr Birch had spent the evening at two licensed premises.

"He consumed about six pints of beer that evening.

"When he came to leave the second premises, he made the fateful decision to drive that vehicle.

"It was a conscious decision by him, and he said he felt slightly drunk as he did so."

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The court heard Mr Johnson, who was from south London, died as a result of catastrophic and significant head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Birch also suffered a punctured lung and a broken leg as a result of the crash.

A sample of blood taken from Birch six hours after he was hospitalised for his own injuries showed a reading of 87 micrograms, the legal limit for alcohol being 80 micrograms in 100 millilitres of blood.

The investigation also found that Blaine was not wearing a seatbelt in the taxi.

Summarising the tributes paid to Mr Johnson by his family, Mr Spratt said: "He is described as a man who is missed every day.

"Janice, his mother, has expressed how special a young man he was."

Sentencing Birch on Thursday, Judge David Fletcher said: "Mr Birch, you are 23 years of age and in the early hours of the morning you very foolishly walked to recover your vehicle and got into that vehicle - and you knew that you had had drink.

"You are not a man who is prone to doing this sort of thing on a regular basis - but you, by your plea of guilty, accept your responsibility.

"This was an aberration. An aberration it may be, but the consequences were catastrophic."

Before jailing Birch, the judge turned to Mr Johnson's family and said: "As a father, I simply cannot imagine what you are going through."

Judge Fletcher said he had listened to some of the rapper's work and described it as "very impressive".

Defence barrister Peter Cooper, representing Birch, said the defendant was "full of remorse".

He said: "Mr Birch does not look forward to prison, but he knows that he deserves it."

Speaking after the hearing, Sergeant Richard Moors, from the Staffordshire and West Midlands Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This collision shows the devastating effects of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol.

"Birch knew he had been drinking but nevertheless he chose to drive that night. His impairment through alcohol clearly affected his judgement and he drove in a manner and at a speed inappropriate for the road as he drove towards Betley.

“The tragic consequences of his choices have meant that the family and friends of Blaine have lost a son, a brother and a friend. There’s no excuse to drive at excessive speed or whilst under the influence.

“I would encourage drivers to think carefully before getting behind the wheel and drinking any amount of alcohol. Drink and speed are a lethal combination and this collision has devastated more than one life.

“Also, whilst drivers have no legal responsibility to ensure adults are wearing seatbelts, I would encourage all occupants to wear them.”

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