A drink-driver has been jailed for killing his passenger in a crash, after driving the wrong way on a motorway into oncoming traffic.

Thomas O’Brien-Wood had “failed to stop for West Midlands Police officers on the A446 prior to joining the M42 and was driving dangerously”, Warwickshire Police confirmed.

Officers abandoned their pursuit for safety reasons but were told the car later crashed, killing passenger Henry Smart, 20.

“Due to the manner of driving, the initial pursuit was abandoned and the vehicle was lost,” a police statement stated.

“A short time later, police received a 999 call stating that the Ford Fiesta had been involved in a collision as it entered the wrong slip road on the M42 Junction 9 driving towards oncoming traffic.

“The vehicle had collided with an oncoming vehicle, killing the front seat passenger.  Officers arrived, and Thomas was intoxicated testing positive for alcohol and drugs, namely cocaine.”

Thomas O'Brien Wood was sentenced to 7½ years imprisonment and disqualified from driving Warwickshire Police
Thomas O’Brien Wood was sentenced to 7½ years imprisonment and disqualified from driving

O’Brien-Wood, 21, was sentenced to seven and a half years at Warwick Crown Court, having previously pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving on 4 October 2022.

He was also disqualified from driving for 8 years and 9 months.

Speaking after the sentence today (2 February), Detective Sergeant Stephen Barr of the Warwickshire Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: “We welcome the sentence passed down by the Court today but this will never compensate the family for their loss.

“The consequences of driving whilst under the influence of intoxicants added to the fact that O’Brien-Wood failed to stop for police before driving the wrong way down a motorway slip road have been taken in to consideration of The Judge today and are reflected in their sentencing.

“Specially trained officers are still working with the family of Harry Smart and we anticipate a tribute from them in due course.”

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