Driver jailed for killing friend in crash when car hit lamppost and set alight in 80mph police chase

The car Thompson was driving collided with a lamppost and was engulfed in flames on Greyhound Lane in Streatham, South London Credit: Google Street View

A driver has been jailed for eight years for killing a friend and injuring another when she crashed after an 80mph police chase.

India Thompson, 20, was thrown from a Vauxhall Astra when she collided with a lamppost and the car was engulfed in flames early on 28 March 2021.

Passenger Shaunta Rhoden, 19, died from her injuries two days later and Kumarah Cyrus, 18, was badly hurt but survived.

The aftermath of the crash in Streatham, south London, was described as like a bomb site.

Thompson, from Enfield, north London, admitted causing the death and the serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Prosecutor Amy Nicholson said: “At 4.27am on 28 March 2021, the defendant lost control of a Vauxhall Astra. The vehicle was driving dangerously on Greyhound Lane.

“She had no licence, no insurance and she was carrying five passengers so the vehicle was overloaded. The vehicle was on false cloned plates.

“It collided with a lamppost and flipped onto its rood, coming to rest in the garden of a property on Greyhound Lane having also collided and damaged a parked car, garden wall and ground floor of the property itself.

“A resident described the aftermath as total chaos and likened it as if a bomb had detonated.”

Ms Rhoden, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pulled from the burning wreckage unconscious.

She was bleeding from a fatal head injury and never recovered consciousness.

The 18-year-old passenger sustained spinal, pelvic and orbital fractures and was unable to walk for months afterwards.

Just over a minute before the crash, Thompson’s vehicle had come to the attention of a police patrol on Streatham Common North.

Officers saw her making an “ill-considered” attempt to overtake another vehicle at speed and turn left.

They activated lights and sirens and set off in pursuit when the vehicle failed to stop.

The police car reached speeds of up to 83mph in an attempt to keep up with the Vauxhall.

The Vauxhall accelerated away, went over a speed bump, lifted into the air and landed upside down.

After the crash, Ms Cyrus said she had been at the birthday party of a cousin in Coulsdon, south London, and wanted to get a taxi home.

She said Thompson had offered to drive her home instead.

Reading from Mc Cyrus’s statement, Ms Nicholson said: “Everyone was screaming at the defendant to stop.

“Shaunta was screaming and shouting ‘stop’. The defendant said ‘I will get you out of this’.”

Ms Cyrus said she blacked out in the crash and when she came to felt pain everywhere in her body.

“If only India had listened to us that night and stopped, I would not have to say how I feel and would not be in this situation,” she said.

Ms Rhoden’s sister Sacha tearfully described how her younger sibling was the “glue” of the family and carer to their father.

In a statement, her father Norman Rhoden said: “On 28 March 2021, one of my most precious gifts was taken away from me. At 19-years-old her life had just begun.

“Not only did you kill my daughter, you gave myself, her siblings, family and friends a whole life sentence.”

Mitigating, Carol Anne Hawley said: “Ms Thompson is truly sorry and truly remorseful for the senseless and reckless behaviour that day.”

The defence barrister said Thompson had been given the car keys by a male friend who was going to drive her to the party, but was too drunk.

Ms Hawley suggested the “thrill” of having a car prompted her to “show off” to her friends.

During the sentencing Judge John Hillen said Thompson overcame childhood trauma and was about to start a job at Thameslink, having completed a course in health and social care.

He added Thompson was “self-regarding” and “indifferent” to her responsibility to wider society.

He said: “You gave no thought to the safety of your passengers, let alone the general public.

“Your friends were telling you to stop. You ignored them.”

Through her “selfish actions”, Judge Hillen added, she would have to live with what she had done for the rest of her life.

He jailed Thompson for eight years and banned her for driving for 12 years and four months.

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