Man jailed after causing eight-car crash that killed two people in Romford

Paul Ballard, 39, has been jailed after causing an eight-car pile-up in Harold Wood.

Paul Ballard, 39, has been jailed for nine years after admitting causing two deaths. - Credit: Met Police

A man who caused an eight-car pile-up in Harold Wood has been jailed for nine years after admitting causing two deaths.

Paul Ballard, 39, of The Galleries, Brentwood, pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of 64-year-old Eileen Haskell, and school teacher Richard Trezise, 48, by dangerous driving at a hearing in July.  

The incident happened in Squirrels Heath Road on February 20,  2020. 

Police are appealing for anyone with any dashcam footage or who saw a fatal car crash in Squirrels H

The incident happened in Squirrels Heath Road on February 20,  2020.  - Credit: PA

Eileen was in her stationary car at traffic lights when her vehicle was hit at speed from behind, while Richard was waiting at a bus stop when he was struck by the car.  

The victims were pronounced dead at around 2pm. 

Ballard’s prison sentence will be followed by an 11-and-a-half-year disqualification from driving.  

Today (Wednesday, August 11), the Old Bailey heard that Ballard was driving at 30mph until suffering a seizure and accelerating up to 104mph seconds before the crash.  

The court was told Ballard had not notified his GP or DVLA about his fits and had also taken a “significant amount” of cocaine and was driving with his 12-year-old son in the passenger seat of his Volkswagen Golf.  

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There was “no evidence” to suggest that the Class A drug caused the crash or seizure.  

Ballard’s medical records showed he had two seizures in 2016 and one in 2019 prior to the crash and he had admitted to being addicted to cocaine, the court heard.

The London Fire Brigade had to cut a number of people free from their cars and six people were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  

Police are appealing for anyone with any dashcam footage or who saw a fatal car crash in Squirrels H

The scene of the fatal car crash in Squirrels Heath Road. - Credit: PA

Prosecutor Edward Franklin told the court Ballard had "flagrantly ignored the risk" of driving due to having seizures without warning before.  

Mr Franklin summarised victim impact statements from bereaved relatives.  

Wife of Richard, Sharon Trezise witnessed her husband’s death alongside their son, Robert.  

She said he had been working as a school teacher for two decades most recently at a school in Thurrock where pupils called him “Mr T!”. 

She said: "Richard was not just my husband, but my best friend, my rock... losing him the way I did is something I will never recover from," she said. 

Their son said in a statement read to the court: “This has impacted me a lot... realising that my dad has actually gone and it isn't some nightmare I had.

"I couldn't stop picturing the accident in my head. All we have got now is memories of him and photographs." 

Work crews from Transport for London were removing the damaged bus stop in Squirrels Heath Road, Har

Work crews from Transport for London worked to remove the damaged bus stop in Squirrels Heath Road, Harold Wood, the morning after the fatal crash. - Credit: Archant

Sienna Haskell, who lost her father Edward to cancer "barely a year" after her mother Eileen's death in the crash, said in a statement: "My mum was ripped from us a year ago, and before I could even start to process my grief I had to watch my father die too. 

"What I would not give to see my mother again and have her hug me and tell me everything is going to be OK. 

"The worst part is knowing that this could all have been avoided." 

Sienna addressed Ballard to say that the pain he had caused “goes beyond words” and his actions had “ripped” her life apart.  

Eileen’s other daughter Holly said she was an “inspirational”, “caring” and “funny” person.  

She said: "My mum was my closest friend and honestly I'm lost without her." 

Ballard denied two further charges of causing death by driving while uninsured. 

Judge Richard Marks QC said the crash Ballard caused could have been much worse. 

"The fact that other individuals were not killed or seriously injured is entirely fortuitous," he said. 

Speaking about the victims' bereaved relatives, Judge Marks said: "Each of them is utterly devastated by the loss that they have sustained. 

"It goes without saying that no sentence that I impose upon you will seem adequate to any of them or will seem capable of compensating them for their absolutely devastating loss." 

Police are appealing for anyone with any dashcam footage or who saw a fatal car crash in Squirrels H

Police at the scene of the crash in Squirrles Heath Road. - Credit: PA