'Reckless' driver jailed for killing two Chichester pensioners on A27 in crash after six pints

A ‘reckless’ driver who drank at least six pints of strong lager before killing two women on the A27 and seriously injuring another has been jailed.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 2:56 pm

‘Drunk’ Ryan Dowling, 29, of Woolmer Street, Emsworth, was refused anymore pints of Stella Artois in the Heron pub, Leigh Park, after ‘having enough’ and for ‘arguing’ with staff before he got behind the wheel of his Ford Focus and drove at ‘excessive speed’.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Dowling, now jailed for more than eight years, was weaving in and out of cars performing ‘dangerous’ manoeuvres close to the back of drivers on the A27 before ‘flying past’ them around 10pm on February 27 last year.

But after a number of near misses with other motorists, a group of friends travelling home to Chichester after enjoying a classical concert at Portsmouth Guildhall were hit in the back by Dowling’s car.

The scene of the collision and (inset) Ryan Dowling
The scene of the collision and (inset) Ryan Dowling

The five pensioners travelling in a Renault Zoe were suddenly thrust into by Dowling’s Ford with such force the back of the Renault was totally ‘destroyed’, with severe damage caused to the back seats where the three ladies were sitting.

Gillian Casey, 75, and 80-year-old Elizabeth Wales, known as Anne Wales were both killed in the crash.

Mrs Wales was thrown from the vehicle following the ‘violent’ collision’. Friend Brenda Fitzpatrick was left seriously injured and with a 5cm scar on her forehead.

Both the Renault and the Ford cars careered off the road near Woodmancote.

Anne’s husband Derek had been driving the Renault ‘impeccably’ when it was struck. Both he and Gillian’s husband, Francis, were travelling in the front passenger seat and escaped without any serious physical injuries.

Dowling was also left with serious long-term injuries after suffering brain damage and fractures to his skull.

The speed limit on the road was 70mph and it was concluded by investigators Dowling was driving ‘well in excess’ of that - with other drivers estimating he was travelling at around 100mph.

Prosecutor Ryan Richter said a ‘bang’ was heard upon impact. He said: "The Renault span off the road. There was total confusion. There was an explosion of noise.

"Both vehicles rotated after they collided and came off the carriageway and ended up on trees and undergrowth on the verge of the dual carriageway. It was an extremely violent collision."

After Dowling was cut free a blood sample showed he had 97mg of alcohol in 100ml blood - with the legal limit being 80mg.

However, experts concluded this was probably higher at the time of impact - with Dowling thought to have been around twice the drink limit at the time of the crash with typical symptoms including being ‘clumsy’ and having ‘reduced alertness’.

The court was told of the ‘devastating’ impact on the families of the ‘sudden and horrific’ loss of Mrs Casey and Mrs Wales - both pillars of the community who ‘would do anything for anyone’.

Both raised money and spent much of their time helping good causes.

Dowling pleaded guilty to two charges of causing death by dangerous driving and one of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Jailing him for eight and a half years, judge Timothy Mousley QC said: "Your driving was dangerous and reckless. You deliberately chose to drive in the way you did."

He added: "You were attempting the same overtaking manoeuvre you had completed twice before. It led to two people losing their lives and it could have been more.

"(The husbands of Mrs Wales and Mrs Casey) have to live with the horrific memory of what happened."

Dowling was also previously banned from driving for two and a half years but the judge extended this by another four years.

The court heard Dowling has no relevant previous convictions.