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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Mercedes driver had laughing gas and sped at 134mph before killing man

A Mercedes driver had laughing gas and sped at up to 134mph before killing another motorist.

Shaun Tinsley, from West Derby, smashed into the back of Wirral man Paul Loller's car "like a missile" on the M62 in the early hours while high on nitrous oxide. He then careered into the central reservation and fled, leaving the innocent 61-year-old dying at the scene.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today, Wednesday, that the 28-year-old was driving a grey 16-plate Mercedes CLA 180 at "excessive speeds" on the eastbound carriageway of the motorway near to Croft Interchange in Warrington when he crashed into Mr Loller's silver Skoda Fabia shortly before 3.45am on Saturday, April 29. Ian Whitehurst, prosecuting, described how he suffered "extensive, severe injuries to his chest" and later died in Warrington Hospital.

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One witness, Matthew Blakey, had been travelling with a work colleague and was on the slip road joining the M62 from the M6 when he saw Tinsley, of Deysbrook Way, travelling at speed in the left-hand lane. He swerved left then right before the collision and "violently span off" before continuing into the central reservation.

Several other road users stopped to assist in the aftermath, with James Holmes seeing "females stood by the Mercedes who appeared to be panicking". Two men, including Tinsley, were seen to run away while he prevented a third from scarpering.

A fourth injured male remained in the rear of the car. The two occupants who remained, Kieran and Richard Griffiths, were subsequently arrested.

The former told the police that he knew the driver as "Adam", and had seen the car's speedometer reach up to 134mph before the crash. He also said the front seat passenger was a man he "knew as Ben", who had told the defendant "let's go" as both fled.

Meanwhile Richard Griffiths, who is no relation to Kieran Griffiths, said his "recollection was not as clear as he was drunk". He remembered the vehicle stopping at a petrol station and filling up, after which his memory became "vague".

Tinsley was located at the Beaufort Park Hotel near Mold, North Wales, on May 5 and was arrested while he lay "in bed with a female". He "became agitated" once in custody, saying he was "stressed out because of the collision" while he had his mugshot and fingerprints taken, and gave no comment under interview with detectives.

CCTV footage taken at a garage on the night in question showed his car parked up and nitrous oxide cannisters being passed around the vehicle, while the driver was seen inhaling from a "black, round object" - with his DNA discovered on one of several deflated balloons recovered from inside the Mercedes alongside nitrous oxide cannisters. Expert crash investigators found that it had been travelling at 113mph at the point of collision.

Tinsley, who sat with his head bowed throughout the hearing, has a total of 21 previous convictions for 36 offences. His criminal record includes an entry for dangerous driving, driving without a licence and driving without insurance in November 2010 while he was then further convicted of driving while disqualified and driving without insurance the very same month.

He had no licence or insurance at the time of the fatal accident. Mr Whitehurst said Tinsley, who suffers from bipolar disorder and ADHD, had showed a "flagrant disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others".

Paul Lewis, defending, told the court: "Nothing I say on behalf of Mr Tinsley is intended to diminish the palpable loss of the Loller family. What he would like, through me, to say to them is that he does not expect to receive and nor does he ask for forgiveness.

"He does not and cannot forgive himself. He knows he has wrecked their family.

"Not only has he done that, both from what he has done and in the long-term, there is the added distress and embarrassment to his family and the separation they must endure due to his stupid actions. He accepts his driving was unforgivable, and he only hopes that by pleading guilty that the agony the Loller family have suffered and continue to suffer will in some small way be abated.

"It was a reckless adventure. They were out in the car with no regard for others and no plan.

"The decision making was clouded by the use of nitrous oxide. This was an unintended consequence of a night behind the wheel that he never imagined.

"That was the position he put himself in. It is grossly excessive speed, and that is the single most prominent factor of the fatality."

Tinsley admitted causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident, causing death by driving while disqualified, causing death by driving while uninsured and driving without insurance. He showed no reaction as he was jailed for nine years and four months this afternoon and held a hand up to the public gallery as he was led down to the cells.

Sentencing, the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary KC said: "There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Loller was doing anything other than driving his car in a perfectly normal and careful manner. What he did not know was that fast approaching from the rear was a high-powered Mercedes, being driven by you.

"The Mercedes did not belong to you, and you should not have been driving it at all because you did not have a driving licence. You have never passed a driving test and have a previous disqualification from driving for an earlier offence of dangerous driving.

"Not much is known about what you were doing that night. You were out with three other males in this vehicle, and you had been consuming quantities of nitrous oxide.

"The effect on a person who has taken that chemical is to give an immediate sense of euphoria. It is common that there is an inevitable side effect of temporary confusion and detachment.

"Plainly, it should not be taken while driving. The tragic facts of this case are sadly not unusual.

"This court has dealt earlier this week with another case of causing death by dangerous driving, a different judge in the building dealing with somebody where the principle causes of the accident were consuming nitrous oxide at a time while driving at excessive speed. You were also travelling at a grossly excessive speed.

"A witness estimated you were travelling as if driving on the autobahn in excess of 170mph. That is plainly an imprecise estimate, and perhaps a better estimate is given by one of your friends who noticed the speedometer showing 134mph.

"You failed to see until the very last moment the Skoda car that was travelling at a perfectly proper speed, therefore much slower than you. Witnesses described the Mercedes as going badly out of control, presumably when you were frantically trying to avoid a collision.

"Mr Loller stood no chance at all. It must have seemed to him as though his vehicle had been hit by a missile.

"You, in a cowardly way, left and ran off. You laid low and were arrested about a week later."

Judge Menary said of Mr Loller's bereaved partner of 43 years: "One can only begin to imagine the terrible grief she has suffered as a consequence of this senseless activity. She speaks of her immense sense of loss and the incalculable impact on everyone who knew and loved this kind and considerate man.

"I accept you deeply regret what you did that night. The difficultly is that your actions at the time undermine those expressions of regret, particularly your leaving the scene and saying nothing about what had happened."

Tinsley will serve up to two thirds of his sentence in prison before being released on licence. He was also banned from driving for 11 years and two months.

Cheshire Police is yet to provide Tinsley's latest custody picture despite requests from the Liverpool ECHO.

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