Drink-driver jailed for killing children and injuring mother in M4 crash

gracie-ann and jayden-lee
Gracie-Ann Lucas died the day after the crash, while Jayden-Lee Lucas died five days later.

A man has been jailed for nine years after killing two young siblings and seriously injuring their mother in a crash on the M4.

Four-year-old Gracie-Ann Lucas and three-year-old Jayden-Lee Lucas died when the car they were travelling in was struck by a Ford Transit van driven by Martin Newman on February 5. 

The family's vehicle was stopped on the hard shoulder at junction 29 near Newport to allow Gracie-Ann to go to the toilet after she had complained of a bad stomach following a birthday party.

The court heard Newman crashed into the rear of the car, where the children were sat, at 57mph, causing them “catastrophic brain injuries”.

Gracie-Ann died the day after the crash, while Jayden-Lee died five days later.

Martin Newman Credit: Gwent Police

Newman, of Croeserw, Neath Port Talbot, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at Cardiff Crown Court. He further admitted seriously injuring their mother, Rhiannon Lucas, being twice over the drink-driving limit and having traces of cocaine in his system after partying the night before.

The 41-year-old will serve half of his nine-year sentence in custody.

Judge Daniel Williams acknowledged many will feel the sentence he passed on Newman is “inadequate”. He said he was unable to impose a harsher term due to sentencing laws set by Parliament.

He said Newman’s offending was the “most serious level of dangerous driving” but he was bound by the law to reduce Newman’s sentence by a third because he had entered a guilty plea at the first available opportunity.

Hundreds gathered to attend the siblings' funeral.

The siblings' cousin, Jamie Lucas, 19, from Abergavenny, previously described Jayden-Lee as a "wonderful, creative and kind soul" who "turned the grey skies blue".

He said Gracie-Ann had "a bright future ahead of her" and was "very smart, creative and fantastic to be around".

Last month a funeral was held for both siblings, which saw doves released into the air and a Frozen and Spiderman theme to reflect their interests.