Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson
A drug driver who killed two “utterly devoted” parents after taking cocaine and then falling asleep behind the wheel has been jailed.
Luke Norton, 31, swerved his van into the path of an oncoming car on the A142 near Chatteris in Cambridgeshire.
Robert Bateman, 36, and his wife Paula Bateman, 35, from March, were killed in the crash.
Their daughters Lexi, 10, and 18-month old Elizabeth, suffered minor injuries.
Norton was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for 14 years and four months.
The court heard Norton had visited a friend in Lincoln on Wednesday 2 September where he had stayed up until the early hours of the morning taking cocaine.
Norton then left his friend’s house to start work at 7.45am on Thursday in Cambridgeshire.
The collision was witnessed by two brothers who saw Norton’s van drive onto the wrong side of the road and directly into the path of the Ford Focus.
A sample taken from Norton showed the levels of Benzoylecgonine, a cocaine breakdown product, were more than 200 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 50 microgrammes.
Norton was arrested on suspicion of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, and driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs.
Norton admitted the charges at Peterborough Crown Court earlier this month. He was sentenced today (16 October) where he was handed a total of eight years and eight months in prison.
A statement released by Bob and Paula’s family said: “We are utterly devastated by this news. Bob and Paula were much-loved friends to many and will be missed by everyone who knew them.
“They were also utterly devoted parents. Bob was a much-loved son and father, while Paula was a much-loved daughter, sister and mother.”
Sergeant Mark Dollard, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Many people, myself included, would struggle to think of a more truly heartbreaking case than one where two little girls lost their parents in a collision they too were involved in.
“This is yet another case which highlights the utter devastation and life-changing impact someone can cause by getting behind the wheel after taking drugs.
"Had Norton not done so, Lexi and Elizabeth could have grown up with their loving parents by their side.
“It is beyond belief that in 2020 we still have to talk about the dangers of drink or drug driving; doing so truly shatters lives.
"Whilst Norton felt he was safe to drive; the true reality was that he was anything but. The risk he took will no doubt stay with him for life and this case should serve as a stark warning to others."
The force operates a dedicated, confidential hotline for members of the public to report drink or drug driving. The hotline: 0800 032 0845 is available 24/7.