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Cannabis user caused fatal crash while driving back from water park near Leeds

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A man was killed and two passengers suffered horror injuries in a head-on crash caused by a driver who was under the influence of cannabis.

Karl Roberts, 24, was locked up for six years, three months, after a court heard how he lost control of his car after smoking the drug.

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Victor Watkins, 52, suffered fatal injuries in the incident on Hemsworth Road, Hemsworth, on June 18, 2016.

Two of Roberts's passengers, Nathan Kirby, 24, and Jake Cooper, 25, suffered life-changing brain injuries.

Roberts had been caught by police in possession of cannabis while sat in his car in a separate incident months before the tragedy.

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He had also received a written police warning after an officer saw him "showing off" and driving at inappropriate speeds.

Leeds Crown Court heard Roberts had been smoking cannabis from the age of 15.

He was dependent on the class B drug, spending around £25 per day on skunk cannabis.

Michael Morley, prosecuting, said Roberts lost control of his Ford Focus on a bend in wet conditions shortly after midnight as they were returning from Hemsworth Water Park.

The car veered into the opposite carriageway.

Mr Morley said Roberts's car "rolled" on top of Mr Watkins's Peugeot during the collision. Mr Watkins died at the scene

Roberts and two of the passengers had to be cut from the wreckage and were in comas after the incident.

A third passenger in the car, Daniel Davies, suffered minor injuries and managed to get out of the vehicle.

Mr Cooper and Mr Kirby had to undergo life-saving surgery after suffering multiple injuries including broken ribs and pelvic fractures.

The two men also suffered permanent brain injuries and will be unable to work again.

The prosecutor said cannabis was found in Roberts's vehicle.

A blood sample taken from Roberts after the crash showed he was above the legal driving limit for cannabis.

Mr Morley said the prosecution had consulted an expert about the possible affects of driving under the influence of cannabis.

He said: "One of the ways that it can affect users is lack of steering control, increased weaving and difficulty negotiating bends."

Roberts, of First Avenue, South Kirkby, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when driving over the prescribed limit.

Mr Morley read a victim statement on behalf of Mr Watkins's brother, Richard, describing the devastation the incident had caused.

He said: "I have struggled with my grief and have struggled between being very upset and very angry."

Mr Watkins said he would never be able to forgive Roberts for causing his brother's death.

He added: "My brother did not deserve to die. I feel like my past and my future have been taken from me."

Mr Kirby's father, Andrew, described how his son had been a promising rugby player before the incident.

He said: "Nathan will never be able to work and never be able to live alone.

"He doesn't have a future now. He should have been able to have kids, a life and a career.

"He doesn't even comprehend how bad his injuries are."

The prosecutor also read a victim statement on behalf of Mr Cooper.

He said: "The lack of remorse he (Roberts) has shown towards me, Nathan and the man who died makes me angry,

"It has changed my life forever in a way I hoped would never happen."

Stephen Grattage, mitigating, said Roberts was "deeply sorry" for causing Mr Watkins's death and the injuries to his two friends.

He said Roberts had no memory of the crash due to the injuries he had also suffered.

Jailing Roberts, Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: "I can see that you bitterly regret the outcome. But you chose to drive that car.

"It was your choice. Whether or not the drug affected your driving - you were driving."