Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Wrong-way deaths motorist jailed

An American who killed three men in a crash when he drove on the wrong side of a West Yorkshire road has been jailed for 20 months.

Nathan Doud, 27, from California, had only been in the UK for a few hours when the accident happened on the A656 Ridge Road at Garforth, near Leeds.

David Bell, 51, Stephen Thackwray, 57, and Brian Lewis, 55, died when their car collided with Doud's on 30 July.

Leeds Crown Court heard Doud believed he was driving on a dual carriageway.

In a moment, three lives were snuffed out and three families devastated
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC

The father-of-one pleaded guilty to three counts of causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing.

He was given three 20-month jail sentences, to be served concurrently, and a two-year driving ban.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: "In cases such as this, there are no winners, only losers.

"It is a tragedy for all involved, not least for those who have lost their loved ones.

"In a moment, three lives were snuffed out and three families devastated."

Sweeping bend

The court heard Doud had been in the UK for work and had hired a car to drive from Newcastle to London to catch a flight back to America.

He followed signs for London on the M1 but left the motorway at junction 47 after his satellite navigation system instructed him to do so.

The judge said Doud believed he was on a dual carriageway because single carriageway roads in the United States have yellow central line markings, rather than white lines in the UK.

He saw the headlights of Mr Bell's car about a second before the crash - on a sweeping bend in the road - and swerved but was too late to avoid a collision.

Mr Bell had been driving Mr Thackwray and Mr Lewis home after a night out at the Swan pub, in South Milford, North Yorkshire.

The court heard Doud was "dazed and shocked" after the collision and burst into tears upon hearing the three men had died.

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