A “suicidal” driver has been jailed for killing a passenger when he crashed after accelerating out of a filling station to more than 100 mph in just a quarter of a mile.
Shaun Walker, aged 29, left the Harcombe Cross garage on the A38 at Chudleigh like a racing driver coming out of the pits, and sped past terrified drivers like a rocket, Exeter Crown Court was told.
He lost control of his five-litre BMW M5 sports car as he reached 100mph at night in torrential rain and crashed into the bridge going over the dual carriageway on the Plymouth-bound lane.
The car is one of the fastest saloons on the road with a top speed of 175 mph and extraordinary acceleration of 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, 0-100 in 10 seconds, and is capable of reaching a speed of 115 over a quarter of a mile.
Back seat passenger Steven Casey, 21, was thrown out of the wreckage as the car disintegrated, and died at the scene, while Walker and his front seat passenger escaped without serious injury.
None of those in the car were wearing seat belts and Walker was uninsured because he had told an online insurance company the BMW was a two-litre model, because otherwise they would not have covered him for an M5.
He has five previous convictions for driving without insurance, two for driving while disqualified, and three for having no licence.
Walker was jailed for six years by Judge Francis Gilbert who quoted the statements of witnesses who described him as driving like a maniac.
Secondhand shop worker Walker, of Riverbank Road, Garston, Liverpool, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for six years.
Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, told him: “What happened was entirely foreseeable and was foreseen by other drivers. You went out of that petrol station and accelerated as hard as you could in a very powerful car.
“You were able to build up a speed that was extremely dangerous in the road conditions at the time and that was the cause of the accident.
“The driving was very reckless and it was entirely foreseeable it would create a serious danger. This was greatly excessive speed, well above the speed limit or what was appropriate for the conditions.
“Fortunately no other vehicle was involved. The road itself is perfectly safe if driven at a speed which takes into account the weather conditions. There was no need at all to lose control. I look at this as deliberate acceleration in a very rapid car in very poor weather conditions.”
Mr Malcolm Galloway, prosecuting, said the accident happened in February last year when Walker and two others from Merseyside were driving to Plymouth to visit friends.
There was heavy rain and other drivers slowed down because of standing water on the road but then saw Walker pull out of the service station, near Chudleigh and accelerate very fast before losing control and crashing.
Witnesses said he drove “like a rocket”, “like a racing driver pulling out of the pits”, “at a crazy speed” and estimated he was travelling at between 90mph and 110 mph.
Nick Holland, who was a passenger in another car, said: “I felt a whoosh as the BMW went past, going 40 to 45 mph faster than us. I think it was being driven by a maniac.”
A police expert calculated Walker must have started to lose control within 500 metres of leaving the filling station.
Mr Michael Bagley, defending, said Walker was a close friend of the victim, whose family have written to the court to ask for clemency.
He said: “He feels dreadful and distressed by what happened.”