Driver jailed for killing passenger after driving wrong way onto motorway in Warwickshire

He was high on drugs and alcohol when he drove his car into oncoming traffic on the slip road
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A driver who killed a young man by driving the wrong way onto a motorway in Warwickshire has been jailed.

Thomas O'Brien-Wood, of Dudley, was high on drugs and alcohol when he drove his car into oncoming traffic on the slip road at junction nine of the M42.

His passenger, Harry Colin Smart, who was 20 years old at the time, died in the crash.

Thomas O'Brien-WoodThomas O'Brien-Wood
Thomas O'Brien-Wood

After appearing at Warwick Crown Court today (February 2), O'Brien-Wood was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail and disqualified from driving for eight years and nine months for causing death by dangerous driving on October 4, 2022.

He had pleaded guilty to the charge at an earlier hearing on December 20 where he received an interim disqualification from driving until his sentence.

The 21-year-old was driving a Ford Fiesta and had failed to stop for West Midlands Police officers on the A446 prior to joining the M42. Police said he was driving dangerously.

A police spokesperson said: "Due to the manner of driving, the initial pursuit was abandoned and the vehicle was lost.

"A short time later, police received a 999 call stating that the Ford Fiesta had been involved in a collision as it entered the wrong slip road on the M42 Junction nine driving towards oncoming traffic.

"The vehicle had collided with an oncoming vehicle, killing the front seat passenger. Officers arrived, and Thomas was intoxicated testing positive for alcohol and drugs, namely cocaine."

Speaking after the sentence today, Detective Sergeant Stephen Barr of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit added: “We welcome the sentence passed down by the Court today but this will never compensate the family for their loss.

"The consequences of driving whilst under the influence of intoxicants added to the fact that O’Brien-Wood failed to stop for police before driving the wrong way down a motorway slip road have been taken in to consideration of the judge today and are reflected in their sentencing.

"Specially trained officers are still working with the family of Harry Smart and we anticipate a tribute from them in due course.”