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Jailed: Shropshire man drove on wrong side of road at twice the speed limit after drinking six pints of beer before killing rapper in crash

By Rob Smith | Market Drayton | Crime | Published:

A man from Shropshire who caused the death of a well-known rapper in a crash has been jailed for four years and eight months.

Rapper Blaine Cameron Johnson was known as Cadet

Jordan Birch, 23, was driving on the wrong side of the road at twice the speed limit when his Vauxhall Combi van hit a taxi in which Blaine Cameron Johnson, known as Cadet, was travelling to a gig.

Mr Johnson, from South London, was due to perform at a grime night at Keele University in the early hours of February 9 last year.

He was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, in Wrinehill, north Staffordshire.

Birch, the taxi driver, Kashif Usman, and three other passengers were also treated in hospital after the crash.

Birch, from Grove Crescent in Woore, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court last year and he appeared there again today to be sentenced.

He had also admitted causing serious injury to Mr Usman.

The 23-year-old was tearful in the dock as members of Mr Johnson's family watched on from the public gallery.

'Rising star'

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Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor Paul Spratt said: "Mr Johnson was a much-loved brother, son and grandson and he was widely adored as a rising star of the music scene.

"He was plainly very talented as a musician and a singer. He was on the cusp of securing greater commercial success.

"From the outset, Jordan Birch has accepted that he was the driver and that he had consumed alcohol prior to driving.

"Mr Birch had spent the evening at two licensed premises.

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"He consumed about six pints of beer that evening.

"When he came to leave the second premises, he made the fateful decision to drive that vehicle.

"It was a conscious decision by him, and he said he felt slightly drunk as he did so."

Police said that a blood sample taken from Birch six hours after he was hospitalised showed a reading of 87 micrograms, the legal limit for alcohol being 80 micrograms in 100 millilitres of blood.

The court heard that Mr Johnson died as a result of catastrophic and significant head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Birch suffered a punctured lung and a broken leg as a result of the crash.

'Catastrophic consequences'

Sentencing him, Judge David Fletcher said: "Mr Birch, you are 23 years of age and in the early hours of the morning you very foolishly walked to recover your vehicle and got into that vehicle – and you knew that you had had drink.

"You are not a man who is prone to doing this sort of thing on a regular basis – but you, by your plea of guilty, accept your responsibility.

"This was an aberration. An aberration it may be, but the consequences were catastrophic."

Before jailing Birch, the judge turned to Mr Johnson's family and said: "As a father, I simply cannot imagine what you are going through."

He said he had listened to some of the rapper's work and described it as "very impressive".

Defence barrister Peter Cooper, representing Birch, said the defendant was "full of remorse".

He said: "Mr Birch does not look forward to prison, but he knows that he deserves it."

Birch was also banned from driving for two years from the day of his release.

Before he can drive again he must take an extended test.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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