'Lunatic' driver who left boys for dead after Leeds crash faces jail

A driver was seen doing wheel spins and handbrake turns just days before smashing his car into a tree - leaving two 14-year-old boys dead and two others with life changing injuries.

Thomas McMeekin, who himself is now confined to a wheelchair, was 21-years-old when he destroyed four young lives.

He had only had his car for five days when, on March 7 last year, he picked up passengers George Wharton, 14, Rhys Baker, 14 and two other schoolboys who were aged 14 and 15 at the time.

But as a result of his "aggressive" driving that fateful day, McMeekin, now 23, lost control of his Peugeot 206 and hit a tree.

Both George and Rhys dies as a result of their injuries while the 14-year-old was left paralysed from the waist down and the other lad suffered skull and brain injuries.

McMeekin pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Leeds Crown Court

Unemployed McMeekin, who knew some of the teens, had a "significant history of bad driving, including driving with children in his car and showing off when doing so", the court heard.

The 14-year-old boy, who is now confined to a wheelchair, said the defendant would regularly drive teens round Leeds, West Yorks.

Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said: "This was a regular occurrence.

"In his words, they would give the defendant some petrol money and "he used to drive us around for hours...we just used to do it when we were bored.'"

Mr Sharp said that witness saw McMeekin "doing handbrake turns, speeding around corners, endangering pedestrians and driving so badly that the witness called the police twice."

The court heard that the day before the accident the defendant "drove a number of teenagers to a party for payment".

Mr Sharp said: 'En route he was driving at excess speed, performing handbrake turn and racing another vehicle.

"A witness outside the car described him as "driving like a lunatic".

Another witness said "he's going to kill somebody".

It was on the afternoon of March 7 when he picked up his passengers and he was soon spotted driving badly in a car park "clearly showing off to the youths", the court heard.

The "notional" destination was a retail in the Birstall area of Leeds, and during the journey witnesses described McKeekin as an "idiot" and his driving as "aggressive".

George Wharton was 14 when he died in the crash Credit: West Yorkshire Police

He was beeping his horn, pulling up closely behind other drivers, tailgating, driving up the cross hatched section of the road.

In the moments before the smash McMeekin was spotted not looking at the road and, instead, speaking to a passenger, when he looked up he had to avoid a car, steering sharply.

He was travelling at 63mph before he over corrected and lost control of the car, careering off the road and altering his and his passengers lives forever.

Tributes at the scene of the crash Credit: ITV News

Mr Sharp also read moving victim impact statements from all the victims' families.

Kimberly Blackburn, Rhys' mum, said: "I was told that Rhys was going to die it felt like somebody had ripped my insides out."

She added: "His dad still lays out a plate of food for Rhys at dinner time."

The mum of the 15-year-old injured said at times he "feels he should have died that day" and they are all living with worry and depression, adding that the sound sirens "make our blood run cold".

She added: "The impact that a complete stranger has had on our lives is terrible.

The father of the injured 14-year-old said: "There is nothing I or anyone else can do about what happened to my son and the other boys."

He added the accident "has changed things forever".

While his mother said: "My life has been torn apart."