Shooting party drug-driver jailed for causing friend's death

A judge told Jake Melhuish 'there was absolutely no need to drive' as he jailed him for more than two years.

A man who was drunk on port and high on cocaine has been jailed after a crash which killed a dad-to-be in Devon.

Jake Melhuish was on his way home for a shooting party on the edge of Exmoor when his car veered off a country road and hit a tree. His passenger, Trevor Coates, died instantly.

Melhuish, aged 22 and of Sheldon, near Honiton, admitted causing death through careless driving while over the limit.

He was jailed for two years and two months during a hearing at Exeter Crown Court on Thursday 2 September. He was also banned from driving for three years after his release.

The court heard Trevor’s girlfriend, Chloe, gave birth to their daughter a month after his death.

Chloe said: "Trevor was so excited about becoming a dad. We would often lie in bed and imagine our future with a little family of our own.

"He was the only person who truly understood me and supported me after the death of my father.

"On the night of December 5, I waited for Trevor to return but he never did.

"Receiving the news made me physically sick and I went to hospital as I feared all the stress would affect the health of my unborn child. The thought of the future without him seems impossible."

Melhuish and Mr Coates had spent the day at a pre-Christmas shooting party near East Anstey in Devon.

At the time of the crash, he was found to be almost double the drink-drive limit for alcohol and nine times above the safe level of metabolite BZE – caused by the breakdown of drugs in his body.

Witnesses described him as showing off with wheels spinning on the gravel.

His decision to drive was described as "criminal stupidity" by Judge David Evans.

He added: "No sentence I pass can ever repair the loss and hurt that your offences have caused. Others questioned the wisdom when you got into your own car, perhaps it is a shame they did not object more.

"It was perfectly plain that, in the light of what you had drunk and consumed, you should not be driving but the decision to drive was yours and yours alone. You had more than just a little alcohol on board, you had cocaine on board too.

"It was no accident that you found yourself behind the wheel. It was a deliberate decision you made and one of criminal stupidity. There was absolutely no need to drive."

The judge at Exeter Crown Court said Michael Williams was part of a conspiracy that wreaked havoc on local communities. Credit: David Wilcock/PA

Trevor was a popular player at Wiveliscombe Rugby Club and worked as an agricultural engineer and plumber.

He and Chloe had just moved into a cottage at Winsford on Exmoor to prepare for the birth of their daughter.

She said: "I held his hand for the last time in the Chapel of Rest and told him how much I loved him and how much he would have loved out little girl.

"Four weeks after his death, I gave birth to our little girl without him and I feel robbed of all the moment we had been going to share together.

"I dread when I have to explain to her why her daddy isn’t there.I will never let his memory die. He will live with me forever."