Express & Star

What judge told dangerous 'Fast and Furious' driver who ruined innocent engaged couple's lives

A dangerous driver who ruined the lives of his passengers was driving like "a character out of a Fast and the Furious movie" according to the judge who jailed him for seriously injuring two people.

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James Hendley leaving Dudley Magistrates Court

Sentencing James Hendley to 40 months in prison on Monday, Judge Amy Jacobs admitted nothing she could do or say would make up for the harm Hendley had done to his passengers.

Engaged couple Melissa Cooper and Brandon Williams barely knew Hendley when they accepted a lift to a Brierley Hill pub in March of 2022. They knew his then girlfriend but did not know he had already been knocking back Jack Daniels whisky before getting behind the wheel.

As he drove them from the King's Head pub to the Woodside, the pair noticed how dangerous he had been driving and his girlfriend even slapped him across the face "for driving like an idiot". Brandon remembered Hendley "smirked and was arrogant" when told to "slow down".

Hendley sank even more Jack Daniels at the Woodside before heading back to the King's Head an hour later, again offering them a lift. The carefree couple accepted and their lives would never be the same again.

Melissa was a 21-year-old new qualified nurse who was incredibly close with her father, who had died four years previously. Her fiancé Brandon had just got a new job and was saving up to buy his own car.

Despite wearing seatbelts, such was the force of the catastrophic crash caused by Hendley's idiotic driving, which destroyed the Volkswagon and flattened a lamppost, Melissa was thrown into the middle of the road and Brandon was found lying stricken down an embankment.

Waterfront Way Bridge, Brierley Hill. Photo: Google