A mechanic with a craving for high-speed driving who killed a Northumberland teenager in a horrific head-on crash has been jailed for eight years.
Lucy Duggan and her friend were screaming at Martin Li to slow down moments before he lost control of his powerful hatchback on a blind bend.
A court heard Li had reached estimated speeds of up to 130mph on the 60mph country road as he showed off while giving Lucy and her friend a lift.
The 18-year-old back seat passenger died when Li smashed head-on into an oncoming car.
The impact left four other people seriously hurt – though Li himself was uninjured.
Li, who only managed to afford the insurance on the Ford Focus ST by pretending he was 20 years older than he was, was jailed for eight years on his 22nd birthday yesterday.
After the case Lucy’s parents, Ralph and Barbara, and her brother Jack, released a statement paying tribute to the girl with the “constant smile”.
They said: “The devastating accident that took our wonderful daughter, from us has rocked our world and shattered so many precious dreams.
“Lucy loved life and lived it to the full, her constant smile brought sunshine into the lives of all she met.
“She lived her life in full confidence that everything would be OK and we have tried to draw from her positive outlook to get us through.
“The support that our family, friends and the wonderful community we live in have shown us, has been amazing and given us great strength.
“Lucy was always there when we needed support and we have been left feeling helpless without her. May the sunshine in her outlook of life give us all strength to carry on without her.“
Li, a mechanic for Arnold Clark, had arranged to give Lucy and her friend Lauren Jewitt a lift to Corbridge in August. But as they headed along a country road Li took a series of bends at high speed and his passengers said he was “really going for it”.
When Lauren told him to slow down, Li replied “The bends are the best bits”.
As he approached a blind bend on the A695, at The Devil’s Bridge, Dilston, near Hexham, his passengers said Li was doing up to 130mph.
As he took the left hand bend over the bridge, Li tried to take a racing line through it but skidded and drifted into the opposite carriageway, colliding head-on with Sheila Miller’s Suzuki.
Lucy, from Wall, Northumberland suffered significant internal injuries, lost consciousness at the scene and nothing could be done to save her.
Lauren, also 18, suffered three fractured vertebrae, needed five hours of surgery, had to have metal rods and screws in her back, became anaemic after surgery, needed a blood transfusion and is still facing further operations on her legs. Li’s friend, front seat passenger Alex Crowe, suffered fractures to his back, wrist and ankle.
The other driver, Mrs Miller, suffered three fractures, part of her intestine had to be removed and she faces further surgery. Her daughter, Sarah, was less seriously hurt.
The only person to walk away unscathed was Li, who was arrested at the scene.
Li, of Ash Row, Hexham, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He also admitted making a false statement to obtain insurance.
The court heard he had previously posted footage on YouTube of him driving dangerously on other occasions.
He had also been smoking cannabis earlier that day but police said there was no evidence this had impaired his driving.
His barrister handed in references speaking of Li in “glowing terms” and said the accident was a tragedy all round.
After the case, Sgt Phil Patterson, of Northumbria Police Motor Patrols, said: “Lucy Duggan died as a result of the actions of Martin Li, whose driving that day was the worst I have had to investigate in 15 years.
“He had a total disregard for other people’s safety and his driving was the equivalent to playing Russian roulette, driving at speed on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend.
“He is now serving a considerable sentence and has been banned for ten years. I hope this sentence serves as a strong deterrent to young drivers who drive like Martin Li.
“While this is a significant sentence, it does not reflect the loss suffered by Lucy’s family and the life changing effect this has had on the other four people who were seriously injured.”