Family's double death tragedy

PUBLISHED: 15:36 28 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:23 10 June 2010

A STORE worker who killed the father and brother of a Budleigh Salterton woman in a high speed road smash has been jailed for five years for causing their deaths by dangerous driving.

A STORE worker who killed the father and brother of a Budleigh Salterton woman in a high speed road smash has been jailed for five years for causing their deaths by dangerous driving.

At Exeter Crown Court 24-year-old Phillip Cann had been found guilty after an earlier trial on two charges of causing the deaths of John and Stephen Larsson by dangerous driving.

John and Stephen Larsson were the father and brother of Amanda Carter, 42, of Budleigh Salterton.

Cann of Priory, Bovey Tracey, was told by Judge John Neligan: "No term of imprisonment can cure the angst Mrs Larsson and her daughter have suffered, are suffering and will continue to suffer for the foreseeable future."

Speaking after the hearing, John Larsson's son-in-law Tim Carter, of Budleigh Salterton, spoke on behalf of the victims' family, saying: "No prison term can represent the loss of a dear father, devoted husband, loving brother, granddad and uncle to our three children.

"The consequences of Mr Cann's selfish, stupid and very dangerous driving will live with us for the rest of our lives.

"Our devastation of learning that John had been killed was compounded a few weeks later when Stephen died."

Stephen collapsed at his father's funeral and died the next day in hospital.

The family said they welcomed Cann's prison sentence, adding it would allow them to move forward.

During the trial the jury heard that in the double death crash on the B3344 Chudleigh Knighton road on the Friday before the May Bank Holiday last year, 79-year-old John Larsson was killed and his 47-year-old son Stephen Larsson died later in hospital from injuries he received.

The two victims were passengers in a Renault Megane Scenic which was driven by John Larsson's wife of more than 50 years, Jean Larsson.

They were all travelling home after a shopping trip when Cann lost control of his high powered sports saloon on a blind bend.

He careered round the corner, missed three vehicles travelling in the opposite direction but ploughed head on into the front of the Renault - knocking it backwards onto the wrong side of the road.

Cann's red Ford Mondeo came to rest with its back end in a hedge, also on the wrong side of the road.

It was claimed during the trial that Cann had approached the bend going too fast and it was his speed that led to his vehicle 'fishtailing' out of control. He fought in vain to control the car but over corrected his steering and that led to the Mondeo crossing the carriageway and colliding with the Renault.

Cann had denied two charges of causing the deaths of John and Stephen Larsson by dangerous driving.

In evidence he said he panicked when the car started to go out of control and accepted that he was responsible for the double fatal crash.

He said, with hindsight, and having heard the evidence, he accepted that he was responsible for the fatal accident. However, he said at the time he did not consider that he was going too fast.

Cann told the jury that, after the car started to go out of control, he could remember nothing about the actual accident. The next thing he remembered was being in his crashed car with leg injuries and being spoken to by a police officer.

When asked by Robert Linford, defending, how he felt knowing he had been responsible for the deaths of two people Cann, on the verge of tears, replied: "Not good at all."

A police collision expert MPC Malcolm Passmore said he concluded from his investigations that Cann was approaching, but not exceeding, the critical speed for getting round the bend. He estimated the speed at 62 to 63 miles an hour and, if Cann had been travelling more slowly, he would have been able to negotiate the corner without incident.

Cann was also banned from driving for five years.

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