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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Footballer jailed for death crash
Lee Hughes outside Coventry Magistrates' Court
Lee Hughes admitted leaving the scene of the accident
Premiership footballer Lee Hughes has been jailed for six years for causing death by dangerous driving.

The 28-year-old West Bromwich Albion striker had denied causing the death of father-of-four Douglas Graham in Meriden, near Coventry, in November.

Mr Graham, 56, died after Hughes' 100,000 Mercedes car ploughed into the Renault in which he was a passenger.

Hughes, who did not turn himself into police for 36 hours, has had his contract terminated.

Second offence

He was convicted at Coventry Crown Court on Monday, following a six-day trial.

The jury took 90 minutes to reach its decision.

Hughes had earlier admitted failing to stop after the crash last November.

He also admitted a second offence of failing to report an accident following the collision.

Douglas Graham
Douglas Graham was returning from a country and western night

After Hughes was sentenced, West Bromwich Albion announced it had terminated his contract, which had two years left to run.

In a statement released after the verdict, Mr Graham's wife Maureen described the impact the loss of her husband had had on the family.

"Something has been taken away from my family that can never be replaced," she said.

"We know that we must now simply attempt to come to terms with the loss.

"We can only hope that the person involved will acknowledge what he has done to my family.

Wrong side of road

"Nobody can understand the huge amount of grief and stress that has been caused to my family over the last nine months."

The scene of the crash
Hughes left his Mercedes car at the crash scene

Mrs Graham said she had never heard of Lee Hughes before the tragedy and had no interest in football.

She said her husband had followed the fortunes of Coventry City - one of Hughes' former clubs.

The court heard earlier Mr and Mrs Graham, of Eastern Green, Coventry, had spent the evening at a country and western night at a Meriden community centre and accepted a lift home from Albert Frisby.

Mr Frisby, who spent three months in hospital after the crash and now uses a wheelchair, told the court how he saw Mr Hughes' silver CL500 approaching on the wrong side of the road.

Mrs Graham, who was in the back passenger seat with her husband, also suffered severe injuries in the collision.

In a statement on its website Albion said: "The club would like to take this opportunity to express its deepest sympathies to the Graham family on the loss of Mr Douglas Graham.

"Its thoughts are with Mrs Maureen Graham, Mr Albert Frisby and Mr Frank Gosling, who were injured in the incident."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Peter Lane
"Lee Hughes was once described as every club's dream"



SEE ALSO:
Hughes' dream career ends in nightmare
09 Aug 04  |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Player 'regrets' fleeing scene
05 Aug 04  |  West Midlands
Brakes on Hughes's car 'perfect'
04 Aug 04  |  West Midlands
Hughes 'drove like madman' claim
03 Aug 04  |  West Midlands
Footballer 'avoided breath test'
02 Aug 04  |  West Midlands


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